CREDIT: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynne-Carney, Craig Roberts

Director: Dome Karukoski

Running Time: 111 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Flashes of World War I

Release Date: May 10, 2019

Would you be intrigued to know that some of the elements of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s actual life? The biopic Tolkien is counting on it, although it is not especially committed to that idea. The legendary English fantasy writer (as played dutifully by Nicholas Hoult) is haunted by memories of World War I with rather dragon-esque fire in the sky, and he has a tight group of schoolmates that one might call a fellowship. But beyond those (easily identifiable, not particularly cinematic) connections, this is a fairly straightforward story about a boy of modest, tragic (Dickensian, even) origins who made good. It is a life well-lived, but not necessarily captivating at every little moment. But at least his romance with his future wife Edith (Lily Collins) is compelling, built as it is on mutual respect and fascination. The emotions in their declarations of love are not atypical for the genre, but the language is unique and heartfelt. Focusing the whole movie on this intimate love story might have been a more inspired choice.

Tolkien is Recommended If You Like: Tolkien completism, The less interesting story behind the story

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Cellar Doors