Recently “Whiplash” studied the student-mentor relationship as it applied to a drummer and his teacher. It painted a brutal picture of the ruthless search for perfection but the dynamic between the two fed the drama and made the extended drum solo at the end of the film as exciting as any action flick set piece.
“Boychoir” breathes similar air but is much lighter in its approach.
Stet (Garrett Wareing) is a rebellious Texas tween from a rough neighbourhood. He’s a troubled orphan with the proverbial voice of an angel given the chance to improve his life and voice by earning a spot at the Boychoir boarding school. Under the tutelage of the demanding Master Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman) Stet travels the world, sublimating his anger with music and creativity.
“Boychoir” will please people who found “Whiplash” too harsh. It’s the kinder, gentler version of the student-mentor tale that places the music in the forefront. The choral arrangements are stirring but the story could have benefitted from taking a chance or two.
Director François Girard does a nice job of moving the plot from A to B but, like the beautiful music featured on the soundtrack, is a bit too harmonious, too conventional in the telling of the story. Hoffman brings a sense of melancholy to a character who has given his life to music and left room for very little else. That would have been worth exploring, but “Boychoir” is content to smooth over the rough bits in favour of being a crowd-pleaser.