This Boy's Life

All Caroline (Ellen Barkin) wants in the world is to be able to settle down in one place and find a man who will treat both she and her son, Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio), right. She moves to Seattle and finds the seemingly upstanding Dwight Hansen (Robert De Niro), who gives her the feeling of comfort and safety she’s been after.

Toby, however, feels differently after spending some time alone with Dwight; though Hansen’s intention is clearly to turn Toby into a well-rounded, well-behaved young man, his methods are both emotionally and physically abusive. Caroline fails to heed Toby’s warnings and the marriage proceeds. Soon, though, even Caroline notices that Dwight has an overwhelming need to control everything and everyone around him. She decides, however, that this brand of stability is better than nothing for she and Toby, and decides to stay in the marriage for several years. Toby’s only outlet is a newfound friend, Jonah (Arthur Gayle), who has some problems of his own.

Based on the 1989 memoir by writer Tobias Wolff, the film’s script was written by Robert Getchell, who has received popular and critical acclaim for scripts such as Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and The Client.

Robert De Niro
Leonardo DiCaprio
Ellen Barkin
Michael Caton-Jones