This Boy's Life
Time Out saysMichael Caton-Jones's second US outing is an able adaptation of Tobias Wolff's autobiographical novel about growing up in backwoods Washington state. It's a rites-of-passage drama with the kind of period small-town setting that the director is making his own. Teenage Toby (DiCaprio, fine throughout) and mom (Barkin) leave dad and big bro' back East and motor West with high hopes of a new life. First stop Utah offers evidence of mom's unerring eye for male suitors, which is confirmed when they hightail to Washington, where she accepts some old-fashioned courting from Dwight (De Niro). She marries only to discover, too late for escape, that Dwight is a tyrant. De Niro unfolds Dwight's character by stages, and resists toppling into Cape Fear-style psychosis, but he's clearly driving in cruise gear.