What the Bennett Was That
It's 1983 and a group of students have risen to the top of academia and are now in with a chance of passing the entrance exams to get into the top Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. All of this is down to Hector ((Richard Griffiths),) their General Studies teacher and Mrs Lintott (Frances de la Tour) their History teacher but now headmaster Felix (Clive Merrison) thinks these young men need some polishing and so hires Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) to give them that bit of polish.
I was at secondary school during the 80s at an all Boy's school which would be a dead ringer for the grammar school featured in "The History Boys". I don't just mean bricks and mortar but also the characters from the cocky student who thinks he is a ladies man to the gym teacher who thinks he is a comedian. At a glimpse it almost felt like I was being transported back to a time when things were so much easier right down to the youthful Irwin who comes in with his laid back attitude and trying to be on the same level of the students. I could go on from the blue cupboards in the staff room to the tiled walls of the corridor everything reminded me of the secondary school I went to.
And then these characters started to talk and suddenly I wasn't back at school but in this school which is a creation of someone with an agenda and an education far above the characters who he is writing for. For those who are a fan of writer Alan Bennett "The History Boys" is probably great because it is full of clever dialogue which switches between characters like a beautiful choreographed ballet but not in the slightest bit realistic due to its almost lyrical nature. The knock on effect is that whilst some of the students look like the sort of people I would have known the way they talk in class to each other and their teachers is not real.
Despite my dislike of the dialogue the acting throughout is first rate with everyone doing a fantastic job of bringing character to their parts. The frightening thing is that some of the characters and what happens in "The History Boys", specifically when it comes to Hector could have been based on incidents which happened at the school I went to which is handled quite brilliantly by Richard Griffiths.
What this all boils down to is that I have a kind of love hate relationship with "The History Boys" because whilst at times it gives me a visually nostalgic trip back to my teenage years the actual dialogue and the way the characters speak is not for me and better suited to those who are charmed by the works of Alan Bennett.