I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
Formulaic is one of those complaints that is hard to pin down on the scale of complaint strength. On one hand we should be striving for original content and these formulas undermine that ideal. On the other there are only so many plots and characters and we can only do so many variations on them, leaving out the possibility for new ideas.
Taxi Driver is just The Catcher in the Rye. The Choir is just Dead Poets’ Society. Is that something worthy of moaning about?
The Choir stars new-coming child actor Garret Wareing as a troublesome boy who is sent to a prestigious choir school to be taught by a well-renowned choirmaster played by Dustin Hoffman.
I’ll start with some of the negatives of this film. First and foremost is the pacing.
Halfway through, I thought that this movie was wrapping up and I was baffled by how quick it felt. I was thinking “wow, this must have really kept me hooked, since this two hour movie feels like half that length”. Then the movie kept going with another build-up to another climax.
Despite this, I feel like certain things were rushed. The big emotional scenes that were barely set up were underscored by quiet choir music as if that would help us connect more.
Another problem is of course how formulaic a lot of the plot is. Now, I don’t mind the fact that this premise of a troubled youngster proving himself through art has been done a helluva lot, but the fact that elements from those formulas were cut and pasted in here without real need, namely the cartoonish villains.
So, what did I like about this movie?
Well, paradoxically, it was some of the elements borrowed from other cheesy yet well done films of this kind that were satisfying.
At the beginning of this review, I said that this has a lot in common with Dead Poets Society, and while I stand by the idea that that film is far superior, Robin Williams’ english teacher’s spirit can be seen in Dustin Hoffman’s conductor, particularly in the subtlety of the effect the protagonist has on him and how much of it happens off-screen. That brings us closer to the point of view of the child, since we as children don’t see our teachers express their emotions about their profession.
I think that Garret Wareing has a strong future as an actor. I won’t say this is the greatest under-age performance I’ve seen. This is partly because he’s hampered unrealistically in the language department by a PG rating which makes the children in this movie often speak the way their parents wish they would (seriously, have you ever heard an impoverished 12 year old say “go to hell”). He still does a fine job with the material.
The music is fantastic, as it needed to be. We needed to connect to the notes almost as much as the characters do and the staging and singing really help that. This is the only reason I’d say it’s worth seeing this film in a theatre for rather than on Sky Movies.
A break from the formula of this plot comes near the end when the realities of singing come to a head for the characters. It’s done wonderfully. However, the film is undercut by a resolution that I find morally questionable in how neatly the bow is tied up.
To counteract a point I previously made, I enjoy some of these villains as well. Two of the bad kids in the choir are so OTT that I had to laugh, even at the line “get me a flash drive”.
What did I think of The Choir? It’s decent, but enjoyable. That’s all I can really say. I give credit to the filmmakers and actors involved that they didn’t half-ass this project that I will probably not remember, but I won’t be sorry if I didn’t forget.
Recommended Scenario: A lazy Sunday night on TV.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.