I want to say first up, that if you had to select a variety of ways to torture me, listening to choir music would certainly be one of those ways. So, at the start, I knew this movie would already have a hard job of keeping me entertained. And while I am still not a fan of choir music after the movie, this movie is captivating enough to keep you interested in its story.
Boychoir follows the story of an extremely talented, but deeply troubled young boy named Stet (well played by Garett Wareing). Stet loses his alcoholic mother in a car accident and his absent father (Josh Lucas) trying to keep his existence a secret from his current wife and kids, decides to send him off to the American Boychoir School on the recommendation of a very caring and committed teacher who has noticed Stet’s potential. Stet is initially not welcomed into the school, as his rebellious ways and lack of musical training makes him a social outcast to the rest of the pupils and a source of burden to the teaching staff, particularly Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman) who sees him as a wasted talent.
Over time, Stet realizes that singing is his passion and something he wants to excel in and begins to make a serious and concerted effort to change his ways and realise the most of his potential. Along the way, he builds a strong relationship with Carvelle, who becomes somewhat of a father figure to the boy and mentors him to becoming the lead soloist in the choir. Dealing with further rivalry within the choir and a father who refuses to acknowledge him makes things increasingly difficult for Stet as he looks to overcome the odds and win the affections of those around him.
Boychoir is a touching story which in its short running time develops a strong character in Stet and leaves you invested in his plight and circumstances. The director, Francis Girard (Silk), does a solid job at portraying the emotion in the film and in particularly helping you to feel the emotional isolation that Stet is feeling and the self-esteem that he is so urgently looking for. The script is well developed and does a good job at staying focused to the plight of its leads without getting distracted by other minor plot points.
The film is well acted and well led by the young Wareing, who certainly holds his own against a far more experienced cast. Dustin Hoffman is perhaps most under-utilized in the script though – he has some choice moments in the script to shine, bur too often is merely left as a side piece, which robs the film of some of its power. Kathy Bates, as a stand out among the supporting cast, does a particularly good job at playing the principal of the school who is trying to mediate the different personalities under her purview.
The one aspect of the film that I felt did disappoint, is strangely enough in the choir portions of the film. It seems to take an almost secondary focus in the film and you don’t adequately feel the pressures or successes that the boys face when participating in the big climatic performances. This is in part due to some uneven editing by Gaetan Huot who spends too little time on several key moments to create an unevenly paced movie. The score is largely unnoticeable, but suits the tone of the movie well and simply acts as a base for the choral performances in the movie, which are performed by the actual American Boychoir School.
Boychoir is certainly not the most exciting of subject matter in a movie and remains fairly predictable in its plot, but as you get deeper into the lead character, it does a good job at drawing you in. I would not recommend this film for everyone, it is certainly not a film which provides instant gratification or visual style. And if, like me, you don’t really like choir singing, those parts of the movie are probably going to frustrate you – but try to push through them and you will be left with a movie that can be quite rewarding.
Last Updated: January 20, 2016
Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)
January 21, 2016 at 15:00
So, it’s a bit like Brassed Off, but instead of a brass band we have a boy’s choir?