MOVIE REVIEW: “Dead Poets Society” stars Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting, Jumanji), Robert Sean Leonard (House [TV series], Swing Kids), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed , Predestination ), Josh Charles (Four Brothers, Sports Night [TV series]), Gale Hansen (Shaking the Tree, Under Surveillance), Dylan Kussman (Jack Reacher , Leatherheads), Allelon Ruggiero (Fallen, Thinner), James Waterston (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit [TV series], Little Sweetheart), Norman Lloyd (The Age of Innocence, Spellbound), and Kurtwood Smith (That ’70s Show [TV series], Broken Arrow). It is directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Witness) and written by Tom Schulman (What About Bob?, Honey I Shrunk the Kids).
Young men of Weldon Academy are suddenly challenged when their new English teacher, Mr. Keating (Williams), shows them that there is more to life than getting into the college of their parents’ dreams, all through use of poetry.
I thought about ending the review with that phrase. Not as a summation of a large body of analysis, but rather just those two words themselves. That’s it. Nothing more. Just, carpe diem.
If only I were that ballsy.
“Dead Poets Society” is a beautiful picture directed by the man who shaped my latter high school years with his work on “The Truman Show.” The feature won Movie of the Year and spoke to me on many levels, both in terms of privacy and the fear of stepping out of what you are accustomed to. Little did I know that he helmed this film as well; truly, I am amazed.
With its golden-hearted script, young performances, and a message that echoes, “Dead Poets Society” seeks to move its audience. And more importantly, have them invest in this ragtag group of prep boys. I enjoyed the atmosphere this feature presented. Set in the late 50s, the look of this picture placed a high bar. Not only that, but the mindset that the time period had created quite an impression on the landscape this story painted. Parents want the best for their kids, but what is “best” in their minds is simply that. These boys are groomed to become doctors, lawyers, scientists, with no regard as to what they want to do with their life; and when you have a culture that prides itself on earning the respect of the parents, who would question otherwise?
In comes Mr. Keating, a representation of free-thinking teaching that leaves an impact on its students. It’s not about the curriculum; it’s about the personal connection to it. Authenticity. Making it less about work and more about experience. And in doing so, he pushes these kids into a world of exploration and coming into their own.
I loved it. The theme, characters, and how everything comes together worked for me. It’s one of those features that you can sit back and absorb the world and innocence it presents. Only to then be challenged, beaten, and brought to a heart-wrenching third act that will make you shed a tear. It’s sad, but beautiful, and in a world today where cinema prides itself on its action sequences, special effects, or (toward the other end of the spectrum) how artsy it is, “Dead Poets Society” just lives. It’s a coming-of-age that ignites the realization of what life has to offer. And while we are certainly a more “do what you want to do” society nowadays, it is a good reminder to witness what that is like in the most pure way (young people exploring their interests).
Of course, there’s quite a bit of ground to cover with all of its characters. Some more time spent with a select few would have made me happier (what happened to the fallout of Knox’s [Charles] bold decision?). But the story was contained enough to not make it as much of a problem. At the end of the day, this is a wonderful tale of young men coming into their own, forging their destiny and taking a stand for what they love. The ending is classic. And if you have not seen this flick, I ask that you do. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: