Boy Choir Film Review

Film Review by Luke Weston
Boy Choir

The Premise
Stet, a troubled and angry 11-year-old orphan from a small Texas town, ends up at a Boy Choir school back East after the death of his single mom. Completely out of his element, he finds himself in a battle of wills with a demanding Choir Master who recognizes a unique talent in this young boy as he pushes him to discover his creative heart and soul in music.

The Review
When I heard about this film I must admit I wasn’t instantly excited. For starters, the film’s title, Boy Choir, doesn’t exactly fill a person with the passionate anticipation that the latest Hollywood blockbuster would.

My initial feelings were made worse by the fact that I went to a small preview screening of this film with a few members of the New Zealand Choral Society. No offence to any such members, but it’s safe to say that this was not a raucous crowd. Everyone in the cinema (including the ladies) were wearing corduroys trousers and a turtle neck!

One should not judge a book by its cover, or in this case a film by its title. I will go out on a limb and say that I enjoyed this film! It is a well-acted drama, with a stellar cast. Dustin Hoffman plays a well-respected, unwavering choir master. He reluctantly lets a boy named Stet (Garrett Wareing) into his award winning choir, but is unconvinced that he has the discipline to realize his potential.

The story follows the two characters through many tough-love encounters, and climaxes with a final performance, where Stet is chosen to sing a solo incorporating a high D. This is apparently a feat beyond most people’s capabilities, and when the viewer is treated to hearing this note in the film, you realize why. Any male audience member will be uncomfortable at this point…In fact this kids sings so high that he could make a castrato (that’s a person who’s had his man garden trimmed) blush!

The story is believable and engaging, perhaps a little predictable, but it sort of has to be. Who wants to see a disadvantaged kid finish worse off than he was at the start of the film? This is a story of self-discovery and redemption. Not only for the hero, Stet, but for his teachers, and estranged Father (played by Josh Lucas).

The movie is served well by great performances from Kevin McHale (from Glee), Kathy Bates as the school Principal, and Eddie Izzard in the unfamiliar role of a conservative music teacher.

The Verdict
This is a heart-warming, family friendly film. The music in this film is amazing. If you appreciate the classical stuff then you will be right in your element. If you love action, and fast paced intrigue, this is not for you. Sure, the writer missed some opportunities to take it down a less obvious road, but did so intentionally. Some stories have to have happy endings, and this one does!

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 30th April 2015
Rating: PG – Contains violence and coarse language
Duration: 103 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, Debra Winger, Eddie Izzard, Kevin McHale, Erica Piccininni, River Alexander, Garrett Wareing
Director: Fran├žois Girard (Silk, The Red Violin)

The Extras
Sissy Spacek was originally scheduled to play the Debra Winger role.

Days before filming in Texas, Garrett Wareing broke his left arm in three places; shooting all scenes in a splint and having it cast after filming wrapped.