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Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien.

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

  • Tolkien
  • Directed by: Dome Karukoski
  • Written by: David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford
  • Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins and Harry Gilby
  • Classification: PG; 112 minutes

rating

Stately, handsome and ferociously romantic, the new biopic of British high-fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though there is some excellent tea drinking to be had.

Tolkien, of course, is the author of Middle-Earth novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – books about fellowship as much as they are about fantasy. Tolkien, from the Finnish director Dome Karukoski, stays true to the theme, for better or for worse.

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We see an orphaned Tolkien reluctantly befriend three high-minded school boys who bond over rugby, teahouse salons and, eventually, the horrors of the First World War. One of his chums, a would-be poet, is attracted to Tolkien, who, in turn, is obsessed with language and a young lady.

On the battlefields of France, a fevered Second Lieutenant Tolkien fights through a fire-breathing hell that would inspire his future epics, trying to get to his verse-writing pal. The film almost turns into a Peter Jackson-directed Saving Poet Ryan. Shame it didn’t go all the way with that.

Tolkien opens May 10.

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