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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.

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(book), (screenplay)
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2,091 ( 430)
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 April 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Deste Rapaz  »

Box Office

Gross:

$4,104,962 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tobey Maguire's movie debut. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References The Searchers (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Moonlight Bay
Written and performed by Percy Wenrich and Edward Madden
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User Reviews

 
"I Know a Thing or Two, About a Thing or Two."
4 August 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This Boy's Life was the break out role for Leonardo DiCaprio who proved what a great talent he was in this coming of age film. He had to be to hold his own with Robert DeNiro. DeNiro with his great ear for voices and accents perfectly captures the role of stepfather Dwight Hansen, a man with a terrible inferiority complex who takes it out on his stepson.

The film is based on the memoirs of writer Tobias Wolff as he and his mother endured five years of hell with this very provincial man who is trapped in the small town mentality of Concrete, Washington during the 1950s. The title quote is from DeNiro who repeats that line many times during the film. In fact that's all he does is talk in clichés and it's made abundantly clear that his level of ignorance about the outside world is frightening.

That puts him in contrast with stepson DiCaprio who's a bright kid and capable of going places with some guidance. DeNiro isn't about to provide that guidance, he's just plain jealous of him.

In fact This Boy's Life is similar in that respect to the Tom Cruise film All the Right Moves where Cruise is also trying to escape the drab life he sees in his small Pennsylvania mining town through athletics and meets with jealousy from many around him, but not in his own family circle.

This Boy's Life should be required viewing on the effects of homophobia. In addition to the principal players, DeNiro, DiCaprio, and Ellen Barkin as DiCaprio's mother, credit should go to Jonah Blechman who played gay teen Arthur Gayle. He's got a real lonely existence in Concrete, Washington. Arthur's story is still unfortunately being acted out today in thousands of small town throughout the USA. He gravitates to DiCaprio, not just sexually, but because he recognizes a kindred spirit there.

Among other things DeNiro encourages is homophobia as homosexuality is one of many things he's ignorant about and prefers to remain so. It's quite a scene in which DeNiro encourages DiCaprio to beat up Arthur on any and all occasions.

In fact that's ultimately Dwight's problem. It's maybe ONLY two things that he knows anything about and can converse intelligently on. And he's living in a town full of other Dwights as ignorant as he is.

This is one of the best films of the last decade of the last century and should not be missed.


40 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Was Dwight 'deficient' in sexual life? technotrone
What about Pearl?! El_Dude_Brother
I HAVE A PICTURE OF THE REAL TOBIAS WOLFF! fiftieslove
Dwights first wife? Joeytrom@aol.com
That easy to fake your grades? pinturicchio_juve
Versus the Book geraldpayne
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