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A decades-long trudge through Middle-earth would seem like a carefree skip through the park compared to this slog of a literary biopic. Nicholas Hoult makes heavy weather of the role of orphaned academic and philologist John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who survived childhood privation and the Battle of the Somme to become one of the most successful fantasy writers ever.
Delirium in the trenches offers the opportunity for Tolkien to hallucinate scenes from the books he is yet to write; other links between his early life and his fiction are underlined equally forcefully – the young Tolkien forms a “fellowship” with three other artistically inclined school friends.
There are moments that catch – a cafe date between Tolkien and his future wife (Lily Collins) is one, and a knockout scene with the mother of his closest friend is another – but for the most part this is stolid film-making that lacks the imagination and creativity of its subject.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Tolkien review – lumpen life story | Film