This Boy's Life
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This Boy's Life is a true-life coming-of-age story about '50s teenager Tobias Wolff (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his mother, Caroline (Ellen Barkin). After travelling around the country in an effort to avoid Caroline's abusive boyfriend, the mother and son settle in Washington state, where she marries a man named Dwight Hansen (Robert DeNiro), who appears to be a good husband and father. However, Dwight reveals himself as an abusive man shortly after the marriage; in particular, he verbally harasses and physically beats the young Tobias. By the end of the film, Tobias has to confront… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Something more subtle is going on in Wolff's book, a confrontation with a richer, quirkier past and his emerging self that the movie too often brushes aside."
‑ Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
"It's a rites-of-passage drama with the kind of period small-town setting that the director is making his own."
‑ Wally Hammond, Time Out
"The film demands ominous electricity between Dwight and Toby, the latter of whom endures various and sundry humiliation and harm at the former's hands. And there are times when DiCaprio doesn't just go toe-to-toe with De Niro but feels just as tall."
‑ Nick Rogers,
"A young DiCaprio steals the show in this tale of learning how to be a man, with a sly De Niro also giving a good performance, but with a plot that drags on too long."
‑ Angie Errigo, Empire Magazine
"De Niro does great work here. Highly underrated flick."
‑ Scott Weinberg,
"The leads work overtime to make their characters and their relationships pungent, believable, and moving."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"This Boy's Life is so steeped in period detail (music, cars, television shows, hair styles) that Toby and Caroline's sad, bumbling search for freedom seems secondary, almost impolite to the decor."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"This is powerful and moving stuff."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A powerful if familiar family melodrama with a bravura performance from newcomer Leonardo DiCaprio, who's bound to become a major actor in the future."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Outstanding performances from DeNiro and Di Caprio in a tough, lyrical drama"
‑ Rob Thomas, Capital Times (Madison, WI)
"Nicely acted but excessively bland."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"An indisputably great actor is inching toward the black hole of self-parody."
‑ Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"De Niro and Birkin are reliable in this atmospheric drama, but it's DiCaprio who really shines."
‑ , Film4
"Well acted, but bleak and slow-moving."
‑ James Plath, Movie Metropolis
"a compelling character study that is well worth watching just for Dicaprio's performance"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
More reviews for This Boy's Life on Rotten Tomatoes

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