The Boys in the Boat, directed by George Clooney and based on Daniel James Brown’s best-selling book, takes us on an emotionally charged journey through the inspiring true story of the University of Washington crew at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. With compelling performances from Callum Turner (The Last Letter from Your Lover, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) and Joel Edgerton (Ned Kelly, Black Mass, It Comes At Night), this biographical sports drama captures the essence of resilience, camaraderie, and the pursuit of the American dream.

Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the film introduces us to Joe Rantz who is portrayed with depth and authenticity by Turner. Abandoned by his family during his formative years, Rantz embodies the spirit of the working-class student athletes who come together to form the University of Washington rowing team. As Joe’s personal and financial struggles threaten to derail his sporting ambitions, he soon finds solace in his coach’s fatherly approach as as his team qualifies for the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.

Joel Edgerton, in a compelling performance, portrays the boatbuilder George Pocock, whose expertise and dedication become pivotal in shaping the destiny of his young, inexperienced crew. His portrayal brings a quiet strength and wisdom to the character whilst highlighting his passion for the sport.


Clooney harnesses the current trend for classic Hollywood aesthetics to bring us a beautifully realised and handsomely acted sports biopic. Granted, his vision of the Great Depression is a little too clean and sanitised for anyone’s liking, but what the film lacks in historical authenticity, it more than makes up for it in technical precision – especially in the boat racing sequences.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its ability to balance the individual stories of the rowers with the broader historical context. The camaraderie and friendship among the athletes, forged through rigorous training and shared dreams, are heart-warming and elevate the movie beyond a mere sports drama. The ensemble cast delivers commendable performances, creating a believable and cohesive team dynamic that resonates with authenticity.

Bolstered by a suitably stirring musical score and Turner’s perfect depiction of Joe’s ultimate “all American boy”, the film feels like a blast from the past in its ability to conjure up a vision of a country emerging from one of its worst crises.

While it’s true that Clooney’s film seldom veers off its very neatly constructed narrative and sunny outlook, there remains something disarmingly likeable about this story. The attention to detail in recreating the 1930s setting and the Olympic atmosphere often feels a little too neatly packaged, but there is still a lot to like here.

The Boys In The Boat film does exactly what is expected from it, but I would have liked to see something slightly more subversive and challenging in the way of screenplay. Still, this beautifully uplifting story is sure to find its niche amongst fans of Turner’s unmistakable matinee idol looks and sunny disposition.

The Boys in the Boat
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Linda Marric is a senior film critic and the newly appointed Reviews Editor for HeyUGuys. She has written extensively about film and TV over the last decade. After graduating with a degree in Film Studies from King's College London, she has worked in post-production on a number of film projects and other film related roles. She has a huge passion for intelligent Scifi movies and is never put off by the prospect of a romantic comedy. Favourite movie: Brazil.
the-boys-in-the-boat-reviewA beautifully told story in high Hollywood tradition. Clooney's film benefits greatly from a cast whose dynamic and charm are as engaging as they are entertaining.