Dead Poets Society (1989)


Starring: Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Robin Williams, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Dylan Kussman (his film debut), Kurtwood Smith

Director: Peter Weir

Summary: An English teacher inspires his students to seize the day

Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Williams), Original Screenplay*

This one is just alright and I wouldn’t have nominated it for Best Picture considering the glaring alternatives. It makes good use of Williams: a little bit of him goes a long way, and he has a scene and then takes a scene or two off, then pops up again; if he went all-out for 2 hours, he would get to be too much. Williams always had the ability to do both over-the-top big character stuff as well as quieter and more emotional scenes with equal aplomb, and this movie is a perfect showcase for both. The other performances were…okay, but nothing that stood out to me.

The movie’s not aggressively plotted, but the three major student characters all have their own stories and it balances their advancement well; however, the last 20 minutes kind of flew off the rails for me. Certain characters either picked up new traits that were previously not seen, or started acting like cartoons and the plot moves in ways that I didn’t buy. It felt like they wanted a big dramatic, heart-string tugging finale, but they failed to set up the story and characters for the finale they wanted in a proper way, and the movie was already over two hours so they had to rush through it and skip some scenes throughout that would have been immensely helpful. This one disappointed me.

Rating: C


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