Dead Poets Society (1989)
Cert: PG / 130 mins / Dir. Peter Weir / Trailer
On one hand, this ongoing season of reviews was designed to get me watching classic movies that people are amazed I haven't seen. Moreover, I started it in the hopes that some movie would leave me slack-jawed and misty-eyed, berating my younger-self for not having watched it at a time when it would have comforted, invigorated and inspired me. I have found one of those movies in Dead Poets Society; dammit everyone, you were right all along.
That said, by watching it for the first time in my awkward middle-aged years, I don't necessarily see The Establishment of Welton Academy as The Baddies that I would have at a younger age, but more an essential part of the balancing act the film performs between good intentions and the established route of success; the impetuosity of youth against the heavy-laden acceptance of responsibility and regret. Twenty six years after it was made, I don't need to tell you that the film is as timeless as its themes, but it's still worth underlining anyway.
Robin Williams gives a beautifully understated performance, although his supporting cast of young charges tend to be a little more forgivably pantomime, and I'd score the film full-marks if it wasn't for the baby-faced Ethan Hawke, creaking his way through every scene in a role crying out for someone to give more, but more quietly.
But my only real gripe is that even at just over two hours, the film feels like it needs to be longer. The sub-plots of the society's members' personal lives tend to distract from the group which binds them, and I'd have liked to see more poetry at their meetings, rather than pipes and giggling.
But fuck it, that's why I'd be the square of the group, anyway…
Dead Poets Society stars Norman Lloyd as the curmudgeonly Mr Nolan, who also appeared in 1991's Journey Of Honour alongside Sir Christopher 'Dooku' Lee.
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