By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
7:15pm Feb 6th
Opening night at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival must have had Heaven watching. Audiences treated to a live choir performance before the start of the gala movie, Boychoir, to set the mood. For those who missed this movie, let’s hope there’s a repeat engagement or a wider release being planned.
Newcomer Garrett Wareing is fantastic at playing Stet, a troubled 11-year old with nowhere to go. With a deadbeat mother and a strange father he never met, just what’s revealed is the fact that he has no family or friends. The only thing he has is his angelic voice that this movie describes as “on loan.”
The people Stet is with recognizes his talent, and everyone agrees that “it’s best” that he goes to the boarding school of the American Boychoir School. Nobody ever asked him if he wanted it. The first time he meets headmaster Carvelle (excellently played by Dustin Hoffman), he runs away from him like he cannot be bothered with recognition.
Fast forward months later, the two square off in this schoolmaster’s own territory in order for him to prove himself. In true boarding school narrative tradition ala Harry Potter (or any other British product), there has to be a rival — Devon (Joe West) is an arrogant superstar in the making who could give Draco Malfoy a run for his money; the house of Slytherin would love him for the hate he has for Stet since he could become the next chosen one. This movie also makes a nod to Glee. Kevin McHale plays Wooly, an instructor who believes in Stet’s talent. That kindred spirit helps build the drama about the bonds the boy manages to forge while living in the school.
But this movie is not just about what goes on behind the scenes of training young boys to become men of the world. There’s a love for the music and the harmonies. It shows in the dialogue that explains where the voice has to emerge from. A lesson can be learned about how to project oneself in society, and that’s what Stet learns. That’s what makes this film a winner along with the music.
The sound design requires the right kind of movie theatre to see this film in. To hear it is to experience it, and to see it is to visualize the glory from within. Even the crafting of the light elements in the cinematography needs noting. Just like in a symphony, if even one element is out of sync, the composition’s ruined. Here, everything is in near perfect harmony. Just a bit more emphasis towards how Stet and his mysterious father felt towards each other could have made the narrative perfect. In how it played out here felt like a staccato.
4½ Stars out of 5