Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of the big box-office hits of the year so far – which tells the tale of the working class underdog, mixing in an upper class environment and proving that money doesn’t always equate to success. It’s a notion that provides the platform for François Girard’s amiable drama The Choir. Though in this particular endeavour, there’s a little less action, and a helluva lot more singing.
The young boy in question is Stet (Garrett Wareing), an 11-year-old with behavioural issues, landing him in trouble at school and making him an outcast outside of it. Living with his mother, when she is killed in a tragic car accident, his estranged father (Josh Lucas) ships him off to a prestigious boarding school for boy choirs, who are reluctant to allow Stet into such a reputable establishment. But then the choir master Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman), the headmistress (Kathy Bates) and teacher Drake (Eddie Izzard) hear him sing, and any apprehensions are eased. But they know that to allow this youngster to fulfil his full potential, they’ve got to keep him out of trouble.
There is something so ineffably moving about choirs, they’re rousing, spiritual and chilling – and it’s that indelible atmosphere that lends itself to this production. There’s also an added sense of poignancy to this piece, that derives from the lack of longevity within this business – as when these boys hit puberty, their voices break and their talent no longer exists. They’re set up to be superstars, and then at no fault of their own are suddenly just like anybody else, and it’s a theme that while subtly employed, adds another layer and enriches the narrative accordingly. To counteract the more sentimental, and at times mawkish aspects, there are moments of light relief, thanks to both Izzard and Bates – however given the sheer brilliance of the pair, you can’t help but wish for a little more.
The Choir hits every note, and while abiding by the tropes of the genre, with conventional, formulaic tendencies, this heartwarming feature thrives in such traditionalism and predictability in an affectionate manner. There’s a sense of comfortability about it, and while it follows a formula we know all too well, it’s also one that sometimes, we just can’t help but crave.