This Boy's Life

1993, Movie, R, 115 mins


Based on Tobias Wolff's brilliant memoir of the same title, THIS BOY'S LIFE is a well-acted film about an extremely painful adolescence. In capturing the compelling battle between a boy and his abusive stepfather, director Michael Caton-Jones cannily avoids obvious sentimentality, opting to let a rather brutal story tell itself.

1957. Angel-faced but troubled Toby "Jack" Wolff (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his brassy blonde mom, Caroline (Ellen Barkin), hit the road in search of a better life. Caroline is wooed by Dwight (Robert De Niro), an auto mechanic who lives far away in Concrete, Washington with his three kids, and marries him to give Toby a stable family life. Neither is happy: Dwight is a sadistic disciplinarian whose abuse Toby suffers for the sake of his mother, while Caroline endures a loveless marriage for the sake of her son. The conflict between Dwight and Toby escalates frighteningly, and the two are soon locked in a brutal battle of wills.

Screenwriter Robert Getchell's adaptation often simplifies its source, but for the most part he and Caton-Jones remain faithful to Wolff's remarkable story. Young DiCaprio makes a very strong impression in his first leading role, delineating the many moods of adolescence with ease. Robert De Niro often seems forced in comparison; in fact, his savage portrayal stands as the movie's main blemish. Still, this is powerful and moving stuff. leave a comment

Are You Watching?

This Boy's Life
Loading ...


This Boy's Life (1993)
Buy This Boy's Life (1993) from
From Warner Home Video (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $5.99 (as of 12/19/14 2:56 PM EST - more info)
This Boy's Life [HD]
Buy This Boy's Life [HD] from
(Amazon Instant Video)
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Buy New: $3.99 (as of 12/19/14 2:56 PM EST - more info)

More Products

TV GUIDE Users' Most Popular