Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) is a true story based on the childhood and younger years of the author who wrote ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’.
The film spends the majority of its time giving us the backstory. We discover that his mother died (diabetes type 1) when he was a child and he becomes orphaned. He and his brother are placed in a boarding school under Father Francis Morgan.
Here he meets his sweetheart, Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) and unfortunately the film fails the Bechdel test. Tolkien forms a close friendship with a group of boys of similar age. A fellowship of sorts. They meet regularly to drink tea and discuss art and life. The only time Edith joins them – she is pulled out of the boy’s tea meetings!
Eventually, Tolkien secures a place at Oxford where he studied languages. He impresses his professor with his made up (‘inspired’) language.
Later Tolkien went to fight in the war and these scenes are quite confronting. Here he loses his only brother and one of his best friends, a poet.
It’s not until the closing scenes where the film mentions his novel writing. We see glimpses of his character development and potential scenes, but these don’t come together until years later (not shown in the film).
Fact: Tolkien estate disavows forthcoming film starring Nicholas Hoult – “declares it did not ‘approve of, authorise or participate in the making of’ new biopic
Interestingly there is no mention of his faith in Catholicism nor the writing gang called the Inklings from the University of Oxford, including C.S.Lewis. Surely two vital influencing elements in the writer’s life.
Tolkien is an interesting take on his life, however, if you are wanting to know about his writing this film may not be for you.
Tolkien is showing in Australian cinemas with a release date of Thursday 13 June 2019.