Before The Hobbit

“Tolkien” is a film exploring the early years of a literary legend. Nicholas Hoult takes on the role of “Lord of the Rings” creator, J.R.R. Tolkien in this film directed by Dome Karukoski.  David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford are the scriptwriters.

Hoult is joined in the cast by Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, and Derek Jacobi.  I wasn’t too familiar with most of the other cast member, but the performances were engaging enough from everyone.  I am not sure that Hoult really resembles Tolkien all that much, but he had some pretty fascinating scenes.  He seemed to have some great moments with Lily Collins, who plays Tolkien’s eventual wife, Edith Bratt.  Tolkien and Bratt apparently met in a boarding home as orphans.  It was great to see Meaney in a pretty important role as Tolkien’s priest and legal guardian.

The movie isn’t without some difficulties though.  Tolkien is known to have been a very devout Catholic, which is mostly overlooked by this.  It’s a shame that the producers didn’t feel the need to explore this more, but it’s also unsurprising considering most of Hollywood’s derision when it comes to Christianity.  It gets a bit slow at times, however the set design and cinematography kind of makes up for this.

Tolkien apparently had a friendship with three other fellow students at an elite private school that helped spark his more creative leanings.  The film takes the audience through his participation in the First World War, which actually sort of frames the whole thing.  Much of it is presented as a flashback.

I think there is a lot that could have been explored more when presenting Tolkien’s life, but I was pretty interested in what I saw.  I do understand the frustration that many viewers may have over the absence of examination of Tolkien’s faith and share it to an extent.  It’s still a movie that’s worth a look in spite of what I think are some misguided decisions in the depiction.

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