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This Boy's Life (1993)

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The story about the relationship between a rebellious 50s teenager and his abusive father, based on the memoirs of writer and literature professor Tobias Wolff.


(book), (screenplay)
2,955 ( 496)
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Arthur Gayle
Skipper (as Zack Ansley)
Tracey Ellis ...
Robert Zameroski ...
Arch Cook (as Bobby Zameroski)
Chuck Bolger
Tristan Tait ...
Jerry Huff
Travis MacDonald ...
Richard Liss ...
A & P Manager


In 1957, a son and mother flee the East and an abusive boyfriend to find a new life, and end up in Seattle, where the mother meets a polite garage mechanic. The boy continually gets into trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd. The mom marries the mechanic, but they soon find out that he's an abusive and unreasoning alcoholic, and they struggle to maintain hope in an impossible situation as the boy grows up with plans to escape the small town by any means possible. Based on a true story by Tobias Wolff. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A true story based on the award-winning book by Tobias Wolff. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 April 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Deste Rapaz  »

Box Office


$4,104,962 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Robert De Niro, Chris Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio. See more »


Speedometer on car reads the same when Dwight Hansen drives erratically to scare Tobias and then later on when Tobias takes Dwight's car for a joy ride; also the speedometer says speeds of 70 mph plus yet the odometer never moves. See more »


[first lines]
Tobias 'Toby' Wolff: It was 1957. We were driving from Florida to Utah. After my mother was beaten up by her boyfriend, we got in the Nash and high-tailed it for the uranium fields. We were gonna get rich and change our luck, which hadn't been so hot since our family broke up five years back.
See more »


References Island of Lost Women (1959) See more »


Lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons and Music by Charles Chaplin
Performed by Nat 'King' Cole
See more »

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User Reviews

Absorbing, Shocking Movie
19 July 2002 | by (Farmington Hills, MI) – See all my reviews

A highly disturbing film about the violent relationship between a disturbed man, and his adolescent step-son. Remarkable performances from Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio. The desperation and hatred is clearly conveyed by both of them; to the point that it's downright scary.

Deniro's character is so seemingly normal, and yet so menacing and terrifying. Another remarkable acting performance from him.

The taunting of the step-son, and the violent confrontations between the two are ugly, yet mesmerizing. You feel the claustrophobic feeling the boy must have had living in this small town, trapped into this relationship. Some of this is very tough to watch.

55 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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