He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

The History Boys

It's the story of a bunch of boys being coached in order to gain entry to Oxbridge. Hmmmm. Go on, tell me - you're bored already?

It's nice to be proved wrong. A BBC film set in 1983, it does a very good job of setting the scene, as a load of rowdy A-Level students get their results to the sounds of The Smiths ("This charming man"). The high-flying students are told that in order to get the best chances of success into Oxbridge, they'll do an extra term of study. The headmaster (a weasel of a guy) gets a new teacher in and the story revolves around the experiences of the boys with the teachers in their attempts to produce "rounded individuals" that will do well.

Still not convinced it's a good one? I'll continue.

The key to the entire film is the excellent scripting and casting - each of the boys has their own distinct thread in the story, combined with their motivations as to why they want to gain entry to Oxbridge. The teachers are not exempt either, with the likes of Richard Griffiths, who brilliantly plays a teacher that can't keep his hands to himself. The scripting is such that one entire scene is conducted in French, but the quality is such that even if you didn't understand a word, you'd still know what was going on - and find it amusing.

And maybe that's the final point - it has funny highs and saddening lows, although perhaps only a teacher would be able to tell you as to whether any of the sentiment conveyed is remotely realistic. It's an intelligent film - but it doesn't beat it's chest to tell you.

Anyway, it's another one to go see. British film has done pretty well this year, with a few worthwhile entries. As usual, the FilmFour review is here. (*clicky*)
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