Critic Reviews



Based on 16 critic reviews provided by
The movie is successful largely because [DiCaprio] is a good enough actor to hold his own in his scenes with De Niro, so that the movie remains his story, and isn't upstaged by the loathsome but colorful Dwight.
Los Angeles Times
He [Caton-Jones] has made the film all of a piece, making sure that the three lead performances complement rather than overwhelm each other. [9 Apr 1993, p.F1]
The film is well-paced and expertly edited, allowing scenes to flow naturally into one another.
The film recreates Toby and Caroline's aimlessness, but without appearing to understand it enough to make it as moving and important as it ought to be.
Chicago Reader
The leads work overtime to make their characters and their relationships pungent, believable, and moving (though with regard to the rest of the cast, the movie seems less focused and confident).
Despite its admirable strengths and the fact of it being a true story, there is somehow a failure to completely connect with the fierce boy, giving his unhappy and alienating youth an unfortunate air of unreality.
Director Caton-Jones ("Scandal", "Memphis Belle") once again shows his flair for period detail though he never here exerts his grip on the human drama.
De Niro's decision to make Dwight a loony from the get-go throws the delicate symmetry of the story out of whack.
It never attains full dimension. It pursues the De Niro-DiCaprio war so singlemindedly, everything else is left high and dry.
Entertainment Weekly
For This Boy's Life to work as ominous domestic drama, it's essential that we see Dwight as a flesh-and-blood monster. De Niro, unfortunately, just seems to be reveling in the chance to play another viciously demented freak, like Cape Fear's Max Cady.

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