Robert De Niro gets top billing, but young Leonardo DiCaprio is the revelation of This Boy's Life
, an astute, often painful drama of growing up in the 1950s Pacific Northwest, based on the autobiographical novel
by Tobias Wolff. DiCaprio plays Tobias, a good kid with a bad boy streak but an unwavering love for his divorced mother (Ellen Barkin). "I want to be a better boy", he promises from under a greasy pompadour, and tries to prove it when she marries single father Dwight (DeNiro), a bully who parents through intimidation and humiliation. A pre-Titanic
DiCaprio is magnetic in his first starring role, full of anger, hope and confusion as he drifts back to juvenile delinquency and his intensity gives the true story of survival and triumph its charge. DeNiro is frightening and pathetic as Dwight, and Dwight's youngest daughter is played by future star and vampire slayer Eliza Dushku. --Sean Axmaker
Based on the memoirs of writer Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life is the powerful tale of a rebellious teenage boy growing up in the 1950s with an abusive step-father. The film features a legendary performance from Robert De Niro, alongside a young Leonardo DiCaprio in his first leading role.
Having drifted from town to town and various different relationships, single mother Caroline and her son Toby eventually move to Seattle where she meets Dwight. The couple marry but her husband's veneer of respectability soon fades to reveal a bullying, violent tyrant.