In TOLKIEN Nicholas Hoult slips into the role of the world best-selling author of the same name with a lot of respect for the real role model. The film can’t quite keep up with so much attention to detail and is first and foremost a love story. We reveal more about this in our review.
The plot summary
When John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) leaves his well-protected family circle at Exeter College in Oxford at the end of the 19th century, he finds friendship, inspiration and the courage to live out his passion for writing in the midst of a community of like-minded people. Even in his home village, a suburb of Birmingham, which would later serve as inspiration for the Shire, he told made-up stories to his younger siblings. Now he puts it down on paper and also finds a mentor in a professor who is impressed by his abilities. But his love for the beautiful Edith (Lily Collins) inhibits him – he once left her alone in the country for the scholarship. He simply cannot forget the young woman until he is finally drafted in the summer of 1916: the First World War is raging – and hard years lie ahead for John and his companions…
Tolkien Movie Meaning & ending
Although there are still people today who have not seen the “Lord of the Rings” saga (despite winning eleven Oscars), the book on which Peter Jackson’s three-part fantasy epic is based, and above all the name of its author, is still familiar to pretty much everyone a term. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien brought the adventures of Frodo, Gandalf and Co. to life after telling his children exciting fantasy stories as a young father. In 1937, “The Hobbit” and later the “Lord of the Rings” saga emerged. The rest is (especially film) history, the fascination of which continues to this day. In 2012, “The Hobbit” was filmed as a three-part prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” blockbusters; at the end of 2020, the prequel events, which are already in production, will be published as a series on Amazon Prime. And if JRR Tolkien’s last surviving relatives weren’t watching over the writer’s legacy like a hawk, we would probably see new, previously unfilmed stories from the “Lord of the Rings” cosmos every week – we already know this with other successful material.
John (Nicholas Hoult) and Edith (Lily James) are a dream couple.
The first biopic about JRR Tolkien can at least make up for the wait until 2020, although it is only partially about the actual creation of “The Lord of the Rings”. Director Dome Karukoski (“Tom of Finland”), who is so far best known in his adopted homeland of Finland, stages the career of its inconspicuous title hero as a rocky road to success between war trauma, cheerful college experiences and broken hearts, but without ever really getting out of the loop or making it tangible why The story presented here is so closely linked to JRR Tolkien’s novels. On the one hand, that’s likeable: the authors David Gleeson (“Don’t Go”) and Stephen Beresford (“Pride”) This leaves no doubt that John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a completely normal person and achieved his later triumph more by chance. At the same time, “Tolkien”, like the biopic “Astrid” about the children’s book author Astrid Lindgren a few months ago, could just as easily be a fictional story. And as such the film is only moderately entertaining.
Nicholas Hoult, who is best known to a wide audience for his role in “Mad Max: Fury Road”, is not only the ideal choice for JRR Tolkien because he bears a certain resemblance to the young writer. Above all, Hoult is able to combine his passion for fantasy stories and, above all, (fantasy) languages with a natural reserve, although the passion can bubble up out of him. When Tolkien philosophizes in front of his lady of hearts about the beauty of the word “cellar door” (the best-sounding English word ever, if you believe linguists), he visibly blossoms, while at the same time he is so shy for a long time that he doesn’t even dare to raise his hand to briefly touch his chosen one in order to simply go a step further with all the flirting. Above all, it is a love story that is being told here. Namely the one between him and Edith Bratt, Lily Collins (“Love, Rosie – Forever, Maybe”) embodied as a dreamy and resolute woman who knows exactly what she wants. She has so much influence on John that it can be felt even in the scenes in which the two of them are not seen together. Be it because he cannot in good conscience get to know another woman better, or because Edith has just informed him in a letter that she is marrying someone else.
Derek Jacobi and Nicholas Hoult as mentor and student.
We don’t want to go into further detail about how this love story will unfold; anyone who isn’t already familiar with Tolkien’s life story will find one or two surprises here. Nevertheless, those who were hoping for a kind of “Behind the ‘Lord of the Rings'” under “Tolkien” should be aware: This film is a romance. The problem: This means that the film also gets in the way of its actual purpose, which is to present an all-encompassing filmic depiction of JRR Tolkien’s youth. Behind the romantic entanglements between John and Edith, the rest has to take a back seat. In addition to the technically chic but low-tension staged time at college (memories of the Hawking biopic “The Discovery of Infinity” come to mind), this especially applies to the scenes at the front. These are the few moments in “Tolkien” in which Dome Karukoski makes a direct connection between the writer and his later work. To do this, he lets huge, solidly animated and fire-breathing dragons rise from the battlefield or mounted warriors gallop through the bombed-out wasteland. It definitely looks impressive, but at the same time such scenes also seem simply clumsy in their kitchen-psychological presentation – not least because the real JRR Tolkien, due to his experiences in the World War, refrained from using battle scenes that were too extensive and therefore self-serving. What Peter Jackson later made of it is, of course, a completely different matter.
Conclusion: Nicholas Hoult embodies the young JRR Tolkien absolutely believably, but the film itself is primarily a love story with scenic war film inserts. Both leave it open until the end to what extent they actually inspired the “Lord of the Rings” author to create his works. “Tolkien” could therefore also be a made-up story.
“Tolkien” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from June 20th.