That does seem to be the general consensus regarding 'The Choir' and cannot disagree. Just for the record, these are my own thoughts written in this review, having read no reviews prior to seeing 'The Choir' and reading very few afterwards.
Considering the cast, which is a great one (who can argue with Dustin Hoffmann and Kathy Bates?), 'The Choir' had real potential to be great, and should have been. Plus classical/choral music is very much prominent, and as somebody who adores both classical music and choral music and who has a lot of experience singing in choirs (having sung in professional-standard choirs since the age of 12 and featuring in eight recordings with various choirs over twelve years) that was a real treat for me.
It is a shame that 'The Choir' didn't live up to the potential it had. Not a bad film by all means, but it could and should have been much better. The best thing about it is the music which is absolutely exceptional, so much so that it is what makes up more than one star of the average rating given by me.
Lovely use of "Pie Jesu" (usually sung by a soprano but suits a treble just fine too) from Faure's 'Requiem', one of the masterworks in the choral repertoire. There is also a nice and healthy dose of Handel and brief but interesting use of Tallis' "Spem in Alium", a very long and difficult piece, 40 parts with 8 choirs with 5 voice parts in each, and when performing it with London Bach Choir it only just about came together in performance.
Garrett Wareing is surprisingly good in the lead role, instead of being over-eager or overly cute he underplays while still being engaged it in. Dustin Hoffmann's character is underwritten but he brings gravitas and dignity, which is more than the character deserved. Eddie Izzard is in a role far removed from his usual stuff and does remarkably well, he is remarkably subtle when he could have over-compensated and makes much of what he has. The best lines and meatiest material belongs to Kathy Bates, and she clearly enjoys it and herself too. Debra Winger is finely dependable. Again, while the cast deserved better the actors do so well with what they had that they too bumped up the rating more than one star.
A visually lovely film too, not expansive or cinematic but beautifully shot and with settings that suit the film perfectly.
However, Giraud's direction while competent is routine, could have done much more with a great setting that could have been unique if done with more confidence. The story and script let things down considerably, like the music and cast each bumped up the average rating by more than one star the story and script each bumps it down one than one star. Personally do think that the over-familiarity and predictability of the story is a big problem, maybe it was hard not to be given the subject matter but there is nothing new here, with every plot twist sign-posted, and the emotional elements are often over-egged.
Honestly, to me, it was like Giraud or the writers didn't have their hearts in it, which means that despite the music and the efforts of the cast that the film story-wise is nowhere near as interesting as ought and instead feels both rushed and dull, especially in the last 30 minutes. The last half and hour could easily have been inspiring, moving and uplifting but was neither, being too contrived and over-sentimentalised, the subplot adds nothing and can be seen from miles away.
Frequently, the script is half-baked, underwritten and under-cooked and doesn't develop the characters at all in any point in the film. Hoffmann's character is particularly wronged, and in good hands it was a character that even when stereotypical could have been interesting, that it was amazing that Hoffmann actually managed to do anything with it, signs of a great actor, something that he has proved many times over the years.
Renditions of the music varies. "Pie Jesu" is suitably angelic, while on the other end of the spectrum the "Hallelujah Chorus" is butchered with a lot of flatness and lack of unity, though the editing of the piece does deserve a huge part of the blame too.
Overall, the cast and music, and to a lesser extent the production values, are very well, but the story, script and development of characters are severely wanting. 5/10 Bethany Cox
Action / Drama / Music
Action / Drama / Music
Stet, a troubled and angry 11-year-old orphan from a small Texas town, ends up at a Boy Choir school back East after the death of his single mom. Completely out of his element, he finds himself in a battle of wills with a demanding Choir Master who recognizes a unique talent in this young boy as he pushes him to discover his creative heart and soul in music.
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August 27, 2015 at 11:57 AM