This Boy's Life Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 1, 2011
Before the heights of stardom, a young Leonardo DiCaprio built his name with this coming-of-age tale based on the real life memoirs of writer Tobias Wolff. On this evidence it's easy to see why his talents couldn't be ignored.
Caroline (Ellen Barkin) drifts from State to State and boyfriend to boyfriend, dragging her now teenage son Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio) along with her. Finally it seems she may have met the man of her dreams, in the shape of Dwight (Robert DeNiro). After excitedly making plans to stay this time and begin a new life, it becomes apparent they were a little swift to judge as Dwight's gentlemanly facade begins to slide, revealing his true nature.
Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones ("Rob Roy") shows he has an excellent eye for detail in small town America and an even better eye for talent in discovering Leonardo DiCaprio. His performance here is nothing short of astounding and when pitted against the likes of Robert DeNiro, you kind of have to be on your game. Not only is DiCaprio on top of his game for such a young age, he matches - if not betters - the legendary actor. His portrayal of Toby is heartfelt and extremely emotional. Ranging from desperation and capitulation to courage and triumph. He displays a myriad of emotions as a misunderstood and frustrated young man, with sudden bursts of violence and a rebellious nature, to an eventual inner strength and maturity. His performance is helped no-end by the chemistry he shares with DeNiro. They both play off one another powerfully. DeNiro offering another skillfully nuanced addition to his canon of dysfunctional and abusive characters throughout his illustrious career. You can almost feel the jealous rage that consumes Dwight, a very physical and psychologically abusive man. The verbal and mental jousting between both actors is raw and highly charged, eventually culminating into physical brutality with a fight scene that looks entirely realistic. Two wonderful actors delivering powerhouse performances. Unfortunately, despite her obvious talents, Ellen Barkin is left caught between the two male leads with a very underwritten role. However, she's no slouch and still manages a show of strength in her character as well as a vulnerability. This is an absolutely harrowing and absorbing true life story with a perfectly rendered 1950's setting and a fine supporting cast that deserves far more recognition than it's recieved.
With two indefatigable and energetic lead performances it's easy to see why Robert DeNiro is regarded as the greatest screen actor of his time and why DiCaprio became a star and may yet follow in the legend's footsteps.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2011
Two acting powerhouses from two generations, a young DiCaprio and De-Niro, locks horns in this gripping movie about a dysfunctional family.
No one watching this movie then would've known that this was the signs of things to come. Years later, DiCaprio have grown in to a similar stature of DeNiro, even replacing him as the as the certain fixture in Scorsese movies.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2010
Tragic childhoods do not always make great or even good movies! I see movies like this and think the movie could just as well be based on my childhood!
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2009
An amazing film that captures a story of step-father and son like no other. Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio gave such powerful performances and had some of the best on screen chemistry. It is a very realistic film that has very plausible outcomes.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2009
De Niro and DiCaprio are particularly good in this entertaining drama. To be fair though, De Niro had it easy and it was DiCaprio who really deserves credit.
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2009
Tough movie.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2008
I really enjoyed DeNiro and DiCaprio's performances, but felt that the movie could have gone deeper.
MANUGINO
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2007
The movie is really good and fun at the same time. Robert De Niro gets top billing, but young Leonardo DiCaprio is the revelation of This Boy's Life, an astute, often painful drama of growing up in the 1950s Pacific Northwest, based on the autobiographical novel by Tobias Woolf. DiCaprio plays Tobias, a good kid with a bad boy streak but an unwavering love for his divorced mother. "I want to be a better boy," he promises from under a greasy pompadour, and tries to prove it when she marries single father Dwight, a bully who parents through intimidation and humiliation. DiCaprio is magnetic in his first starring role, full of anger, hope, and confusion as he drifts back to juvenile delinquency, and his intensity gives the true story of survival and triumph its charge
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2007
Great film, had watched it a long time ago and it had made an impact on me. DiCaprio was fantastic and I hated De Niro so much in this which only compliments his acting capabilities
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2011
Editing could be tighter. Still, the story is compelling, as are the characters, thanks to their excellent chemistry and well-done potrayals. Seriously, 16 and DiCaprio still makes a killing? How? As for De Niro, I think I can see the notoriety. Really, there's not much to say about the movie, but it's still really worth checking out, especially when you wanna see one of DiCaprio's first steps to success. Also, what's with all the smoking? Was there anyone not smoking? I think I saw a squirrel taking a drag in the background.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2007
This hard-hitting, truthful coming-of-age drama benefits from the stellar acting abilities of both De Niro and DiCaprio. The two actors feed off each other's energy, and the result is a highly interesting movie drawn from a simple but deeply moving script. Both actors have such textured, complex performance that the acting becomes the main point of the film instead of the story. DiCaprio plays a confused, angry young man who can't pull himself away from a compulsion to break the rules and De Niro plays a schoolyard bully who never grew up. The film is so painful and harsh and gripping that I can't deny its merit as a solid drama. I love it to pieces.
mvieaddict
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2009
What I liked most about the movie, This Boy's Life was the acting. Don't get me wrong, the movie itself was also good; it was rather disturbing when you think about the fact that it was based on a true story. Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Toby in this movie was just very good and convincing. Robert De Niro was good as always, he managed to bring forward the brutal side of his character while he pretend also that he was a good man. Ellen Barkin did not have much character development but still she did fine as the mother who was just trying to make a life as best as she could for her rebellious son.This was an excellent early Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro movie.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2009
One of dicaprios i hadnt seen yet. Good acting, great cast. Damn Deniro can play a good asshole when he wants too. I loss count on how many times i wanted to punch my tv set. Well I remember an actor dont ask me who oncew saying that if he makes you hate him then he's a good actor..damn well told. Well i pick my top favorite actors very carefully and Leo has always been in my top 5 and from watching some of his earlier work that i hadnt seen before such as this i see he has always had it in him he's like a good wine he gets alot better with age.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2009
"Think of it like an adventure!" A soberingly true story with a great cast and great writing.
Super Reviewer
½ October 5, 2008
The cast is excellent in this film. It's definately a different Robert De Niro than what I've seen him do before. The story was very angering, especially knowing its true, but it made for a good movie.
Super Reviewer
December 23, 2007
Another on the list of films where DiCaprio and De Niro show they can act.
Super Reviewer
½ May 27, 2007
This is a great film. It starts out a little slow, but it definitely pulls you in. De Niro makes you love to hate him, and a young DiCaprio shines as a rebellious teen.
Super Reviewer
½ March 20, 2007
DiCaprio & De Niro go head to head in this abusive family drama set in the 50's.
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2007
This movie was very well acted. It was a true story, so I hope the guy who De Niro played is burning in hell. Eliza was such a nerd in this movie! A cute one though. Why didn't she have more lines?! ***SPOILER*** And I can't believe Tobias/Jack and his mother just ditch her at the end!
Super Reviewer
December 7, 2006
Have to rewatch it for details, it's been a while, but I remember powerful performances and an intense story.
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