I have heard people talk about this movie, but apparently I am behind the times because today is the first time I have ever seen Dead Poets Society.
The movie concerns a group of students at an affluent private school who land in the English class of the newest instructor. This instructor doesn’t teach by the same book as the rest of the school and the students soon find themselves actually enjoying the learning process and struggling to better themselves. This upsets the applecart and the administration decides to get in involved. From here I will say no more of the plot, because doing so would ruin the movie.
I found this to be an enjoyable film; it was funny at times, poignant at others. I enjoyed that even though it was supposed to be a story of the teacher it instead focuses on the kids, which lends greater impact on the teacher’s role. I am also happy that the angst and struggles of the boys seemed very real and not overly dramatic tripe. True there is a romance angle in the film, but it feels more solid and convincing. I have always enjoyed the atmosphere of movies that evoke old style universities; I doubt I would do well at one but I love the look and feel of them. The cinematography and set design here really drives this feeling home.
The acting is very good as well, owing in no small part to casting. Robin Williams shines as the teacher, and while he could have restrained a bit more his emotional moments really hit hard. Kurtwood Smith is perfectly cast as an overbearing father, he excels at these roles and it’s nice to see him here and realize exactly why he was cast on That 70s show. On the kid side of things we get a pair of strong performances by a nearly unrecognizable Ethan Hawk and Robert Sean Leonard. Leonard is one of the few people on House that I enjoy so it was a real treat to see him here.
The movie feels a bit dated, but it is a period piece so it holds up very well. The acting is good, the music works, the plot is strong, and the acting fantastic. I’m glad to have finally seen the movie and would list it as a must see.
Dead Poets Society gets a 5/5