Like most kids, I was obsessed with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books. J. R. Tolkien was my literary hero, but what did I really know about the legendary author with an expansive, extraordinary imagination? Through the Fox Searchlight biopic, I discovered that Tolkien and I had more in common than I would’ve ever imagined. We were bullied. Our Moms were our biggest supporter and greatest cheerleader. therefore, encouraged to change the world through the power of art. Like with most people drawn to the arts, the entertainment value of it all most often derives from pain.
Tolkien explores every inch and chapter of the author from his tragic childhood to war to becoming a successful writer, father and husband. Two of my favorite scenes are when his schoolmates are meeting for tea and intense conversation with their secret literary society and the moment he and Edith eavesdrop the opera within the bowels of the venue. Thus, setting the stage for the love affair to dominate the biopic between J.R. and Edith.
Director Dome Karukoski’s use imagery is quite vivid from the color transition between war and the real world, as well as the use of shadows from Tolkien’s pictures married with the war battle . Especially, one moment in which J.R. waits in a pool of bloody water surrounded by a mountain of slain soldiers awaiting the news from his Geoffrey. However, it is Nicholas Hoult in the title role which kept me captivated and made me care about the journey of J.R. His performance is riveting and rooted in such reality that I nearly forgot I was watching a performance by an actor. His performance is only enhanced by his support team of Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn Carney, Patrick Gibson and Lily Collins (who is also fantastic in the Ted Bundy Netflix flick – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)
This is what is revealed. J.R. grew up in Africa and returned to England after the death of his father. He becomes a writer by way of being a linguistics major at Oxford and the the ‘ring’ stories came as a result of attempting to see the opera Wagner’s Ring Circle. We also know that through history, the family of this famed author has not been a huge fan of the absurdly, commercially successful Peter Jackson films and it appears the family has no interest in being attached to this biopic either.
At the end of the day , if you are a fan of J.R. Tolkien, his literary works or the films, then you will enjoy learning just a little bit more about a man who survived against all odds and found a way to make his mother’s creativity live on forever. Tolkien hits theatres TODAY