Review: Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates Star in The Choir

Boychoir Portfolio Still 3A young boy from the wrong side of the tracks is given the chance to make it as part of an elite choir of boys in this film that will either leave your heart warmed, or your eyes rolling.

The choir stars Dustin Hoffman as the cruel-to-be-kind choirmaster, who grudgingly accepts a gifted but troubled 11-year-old called Stet (Garrett Wareing) and pushes him to achieve his full potential.

Young Stet lives in a trailer park with his alcoholic single mother and is flunking out at school. Luckily, (but without explanation) his headmistress recognises his musical potential and enlists the American Boychoir to perform at the school with the aim of Stet audition. He buckles, and runs away without singing a note. In a twist of fate, his mother dies in a crash at that very same moment, and young Stet is handed over to the care of his estranged father, who has his own family in New York, but has been paying child support nonetheless. Step in again fairy godmistress, who suggests that the best thing for Stet’s newfound father to do is send him off to the American Boychoir School in New Jersey, where he can make something of himself.

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It’s clear that Stet (who could be John Jolie-Pitt’s long lost twin) doesn’t fit in with these determined, musically honed and pompous choir boys from the start, but in an all-too-predictable storyline, he makes it through in the end and finds the family he thought he never had.

Despite an ensemble of incredible actors including Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates as the elite choir headmistress, Eddie Izzard as the snooty and career-hungry choirmaster assistant and Glee’s Kevin McHale as a teacher, this film falls well short of the high note. If you’re a fan of director, François Girard’s previous films, or a fan of classical/choir music in general, then you shouldn’t disregard it. The young boys in the film might not be made for the big screen, but their voices are definitely made for the soundtrack. Bates in particular, does well with the script, while McHale shows us that he’s capable of more than just singing in a Glee Club.

 

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The emphasis in this film is the finite time we have to be truly great at something – singing, sports, musical… most extraordinary talent comes with some kind of time expiration, particularly the transcendental talent of the choir boy, who only has a few years to make their mark before puberty hits.

It’s refreshing to see a film that will expose a younger audience to a musical experience different from the sex-driven commercial side they will experience in everyday media.

Go with: Your mum, your kids, or your little brother/sister

2.5/5 stars

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