This Boy's Life

This Boy's Life Information

This Boy's Life is a 1993 film adaptation of the memoir of the same name by Tobias Wolff. It is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Tobias Wolff, Robert De Niro as stepfather Dwight Hansen, and Ellen Barkin as Toby's mother, Caroline. The film also features Chris Cooper, Carla Gugino, Eliza Dushku, and Tobey Maguire (in his feature film debut).


Nomadic, flaky Caroline Wolff (Ellen Barkin) just wants to settle down in one place, find a decent man, and provide a better home for her and her son, Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio). When she moves to Seattle and meets the seemingly respectable Dwight Hansen (Robert De Niro) (in real life Dwight Thompson worked as a mechanic for Seattle City Light at the time), she thinks she has got it made. Toby, however, feels differently after Dwight's true personality is revealed after spending a few months with Dwight and his children away from Caroline. The boy's stepfather-to-be seems to want to mold Toby into a better person, but his method includes emotionally, verbally, and physically abusing the boy.

The marriage proceeds, and soon Caroline, too, recognizes Dwight's need to dominate everyone around him. She sticks with it, though, convinced it is the best thing for her son, and several years of dysfunction ensue. During this time, Toby befriends a classmate, the misfit and ambiguously homosexual, Arthur Gayle (Jonah Blechman). Toby continues to chafe under the yoke of his repressive stepfather. Hoping to leave Concrete and live with his older brother Gregory, Toby decides to apply for east-coast prep-school scholarships. Realizing his grades are not adequate to apply, Toby devises a plan to submit falsified grade reports. Meanwhile, the friendship between Arthur and Toby becomes strained when Arthur confronts Toby regarding his behavior; Arthur tells Toby he is acting more and more like Dwight and asks Toby, "why should you be the one who gets to leave?" Even so, Arthur helps his friend get the papers Toby needs to falsify his grade records and Toby sends in his prep-school applications. When Toby tells Arthur he can leave Concrete and have a better life too, Arthur tells him he will most likely stay. After numerous rejections, Toby is accepted to the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania with a full scholarship.

At the end of the film following two years of marriage, Caroline defends Toby during a physically violent argument between her son and husband and they are both seen leaving Dwight and Concrete. The real Dwight died in 1992. Caroline got remarried to a good man and lives in Florida. Arthur left Concrete after all, and became a successful businessman in Italy. Dwight's children all married and lived in Seattle.



Largely filmed in the state of Washington, the town of Concrete, Washington (where Tobias Wolff's teen years were spent with his mother and stepfather, Dwight), was transformed to its 1950s appearance for a realistic feel. Many of the town's citizens were used as extras, and all external scenes in Concrete (and some internal scenes, as well) were shot in and around the town, including the former elementary school buildings and the still-active Concrete High School building.


Box office

The film was released in limited release on April 9, 1993 and earned $74,425 that weekend; upon its wide release on April 23, the film opened at #10 at the box office and grossed $1,519,678. The film would end with a domestic gross of $4,104,962.

Critical reception

The film gained mostly positive reviews; review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 76% 'Fresh' rating. On Metacritic, where they give a 'normalized' score, the film has a 60/100.

Home media

This Boy's Life was released on DVD May 13, 2005


The soundtrack of This Boy's Life used many songs from the 1950s and early 1960s. The main titles (filmed in Professor Valley, Utah) feature Frank Sinatra's version of "Let's Get Away from It All" from his 1958 album Come Fly with Me and Toby and his mother sing I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" from the popular post-war musical South Pacific. However, most of the music reflects Toby's fondness for rock and roll and doo wop, including songs by Eddie Cochran, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and Link Wray. Carter Burwell composed the film's pensive score, which featured New York guitarist Frederic Hand.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "This_Boy%27s_Life_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



Page generated in 0.28817105293274 seconds