Russell Tovey one of the shining stars of
The History Boys
An unruly collection of clever but crass Thatcher-era English high-school students seek to earn the scores needed to enrol in Oxford and Cambridge in director Nicholas Hytner and screenwriter Alan Bennett’s screen adaptation of Bennett’s Tony-winning play. The History Boys focuses on a group of eight students, all of them deemed by their overeager headmaster (Clive Merrison) to be the best and the brightest. Though they’ve been coddled by their humanities-loving instructor, Hector (Richard Griffiths), and their acerbic history teacher, Mrs. Lintott (Frances de la Tour), the boys are deemed in need of additional tutoring; thus, the brash, young Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) is recruited to challenge them further. The subtle power games the boys used to their advantage with their previous tutors are of no use with Irwin, whose wit borders on the callous. Meanwhile, Irwin’s presence — and a hush-hush scandal — forces all of the faculty members to reassess their position at the school.
Hytner shot The History Boys shortly after the play’s Broadway run, to capitalize on the enthusiasm and energy exhibited in the live shows. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide rebellion, instead focusing on more mature issues of sexual orientation, life philosophies, and mortality. The film’s cast of truly talented actors is headed by Richard Griffiths, whose performance as the tragically flawed yet loveable Mr. Hector forms much of the story’s heart. Each student is played to perfection by young actors who include Samuel Barnett, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, and Russell Tovey.
Filled with intellectual horsing around, rampant homosexual tension, and particularly lenient faculty, this day school appears to have little in common with the typical American high school. THE HISTORY BOYS should be especially refreshing to American audiences used to seeing adolescence exploited as it so often is in today’s gross-out comedies.