The History Boys

Over the weekend we took a trip to the DVD rental shop and waving at me from the shelves was ‘The History Boys’ a film which not long before I had, had a conversation with RevRuth about, so it was swiped off the shelf and soon whirring away in the DVD player at home.

It is the story about a group of boys being coached by three teachers in preparation for sitting the Oxford entrance exams. The play the film is based on, along with this film adaptation is written by Alan Bennett and is liberally sprinkled with typical Bennett lines to make you smile, cringe and laugh out loud. Richard Griffiths wonderfully plays Hector, a teacher who unorthodox views inspire the boys to such an extent that they are prepared to ignore his ulterior motives when he offers them lifts on his motorcycle. Frances de la Tour, as the boys history teacher, is a role which is tinged with poignancy, her character had so much more promise which I can’t help wondering whether the play contains and for some reason was cut out of the film version. While Stephen Campbell Moore, playing Mr Irwin the ‘Oxford graduate’ employed to help get the boys passes in the exams with his inside knowledge, excels as you see the characters internal struggles played out on the screen. On the whole the funniest lines are given to the boys in particular Dakin, played by Dominic Cooper a character I didn’t really warm to. Posner, played by Samuel Barnett, fragile and resilient; and Scripps, played by Jamie Parker, whose line about God wearing underpants is unmissable. The film is filled with sub plots many of which I felt weren’t fully developed, and could be down to the screen adaptation maybe now I should read the play, but all in all it is an absolute gem.

I would certainly join with RevRuth in recommending it.

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