Saturday, 18 September 2010
Play/Film: The History Boys
The eight boys are each well-rounded characters, but the chief boys are sad-eyed Posner whose inner turmoil and crush on the cocky star of the class, Dakin. Though a more minor character, special mention has to go to Rudge, the (comparative) thicky of the class who is more interested in sport than academic achievement and who is only trying out for Oxbridge because it is expected of him. Rudge is played wonderfully by Russell Tovey, otherwise known as George the werewolf in Being Human, and who is currently, and deservedly, popping up on pretty much any TV show you care to mention.
…Until right at the end, where the mood takes a jarring turn. Twice. In the stage play, there are “framing” scenes that seem out of place at the time, but set up the ending. The film does not have any of these scenes, which I was glad about because I didn’t feel when reading the play that they added anything. Yet their absence makes for a more shocking ending. Firstly, there is a shock twist to the story proper, and secondly, there is a sort of epilogue which is at the best bittersweet and at the worst depressing. I didn’t find this made the film any the worse, but if I had not read the play I would not have liked it. Certainly the makes you think and wonder why Bennett chose to end it this way. I haven’t yet come up with an answer to that question.