In the biopic coming-of-age film marked by love, friendship, and a war draft, ‘Tolkien’ paints a portrait of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ author J.R.R. Tolkien’s formative years.
Ronald Tolkien’s literary story, primarily played by Nicholas Hoult in his adolescence and Harry Gilby in his younger years, weaves in the whimsical elements of Tolkien’s fantasy writings throughout the various timelines. Images of fiery, smoke filled dragon figures drawn from hallucinatory facets of Tolkien’s imagination.
Outside of Tolkien’s private life, the film centers around a bond of brotherhood between Tolkien’s bullies turned best friends: Geoffrey Bache Smith, Robert Quilter Gilson, and Christopher Wiseman. The group of artistically tortured teens, who initially met at the King Edward’s School in Birmingham, find solace in each other and form a bond to “change the world.” The four pledged their fellowship to one another and called themselves the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, or T.C.B.S. as they refer to it.
Through playing with broken moments in time, Tolkien’s story is sandwiched between his painful experiences as an officer in World War I France. While the action doesn’t match up to those of his writings, Tolkien starts off a bit slow, but quickly picks up the pace in a riveting tell-all of young Ronald losing his mother at a young age and living in an orphan home under the guidance of a close family friend and priest (Colm Meaney).
While the war scenes make for a thrilling act break, the majority of Tolkien’s story is centered around his experience at Oxford and dealing being away from his future wife Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) as the T.C.B.S. continued their meetings to explore the depths of poetry, art, and music.
Overall, the film did a lovely job setting up the start of Tolkien’s inspiration for ‘The Hobbit’ and navigating his various life-altering struggles that enveloped into something beautiful. Throughout the film, the charming and innocently pure Tolkien drives the film forward and encapsulates his story for both fans and newcomers to his works.
Check out the trailer for the film below!