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BOYCHOIR (review)

Written by Ben Ripley / Directed by François Girard / Starring Garrett Wareing, Dustin Hoffman, Debra Winger and Eddie Izzard.

Carvelle: How dare you squander your talent!

Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, and the return of Debra Winger; how can you go wrong with these three sharing the screen? Many ways it would seem. BOYCHOIR is the latest film from Canadian director François Girard (THE RED VIOLIN). The film has many opportunities to differentiate itself from the glut of uninspired family dramas that came before it, but instead plays by the rules, resulting in a forgettable, often groan-inducing film.

Stet (Garrett Wareing) is a troubled (and troublemaking) eleven-year-old living with his alcoholic mother in Odessa, Texas. Stet has a beautiful voice, but when his principal (Winger) asks him to sing in front of National Boychoir Academy choir master Carvelle (Hoffman), Stet runs off. After his mother is conveniently killed in a car accident, Stet is put in the care of his well-off father Gerard (Josh Lucas), who is now happily married with two daughters. Wanting nothing to do with his accidental son, Gerard drives him to the National Boychoir Academy, and offers the principal (Bates) a hefty donation to take Stet off his hands. Carvelle and the rest of the students don’t take kindly to Stet’s lack of precision and behaviour, but a teacher (Glee’s Kevin McHale) makes it his mission to fix Stet up. Obviously, Stet cleans up his act (and voice), finding himself going head-to-head with Devon (Joe West), the school’s self-proclaimed best singer.


After watching BOYCHOIR for nearly two hours, I was almost completely unaffected.
as not much stands out in it. Ben Ripley’s paint-by-numbers script is so unexceptional that it is barely worth discussing. Girard does a decent job directing the material, but his talents only show through during the choral sequences. Meanwhile, Hoffman underplays Carvelle so much, that it is difficult to tell if he is using an expert amount of subtly, or if he is simply phoning in distanced performance. I’m betting on the latter. Surprisingly, the best performance in the film comes from comedian Eddie Izzard, who plays Carvelle’s right hand Drake. While it is hard to buy Hoffman as a musician, Izzard fits his role perfectly.

BOYCHOIR is intended to be a drama for the whole family, but it might be best to leave this one for the kids. The film is sure to tire even the most enthusiastic choral music fan but that’s what you get when everything about it is just one note, and a flat one at that.

2 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Boychoir?


One Comment

  1. four sheeps

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