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The formative years of the orphaned author, J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.

This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the "fellowship" apart. These experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels. Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney and Patrick Gibson play Tolkien's schoolmates Geoffrey, Christopher and Robert, who became close friends with the author in college and even fought alongside him during the first world war.

During his time in combat (including Battle of the Somme which is impressively staged), Tolkien encounters dark and mythical visions that he experiences upon falling sick - visions that ultimately help inspire the writer to create Sauron, Mordor, and other aspects of Middle-earth.

The film explores deeper and other aspects rather than just a series of references to stories about hobbits etc, including his interest in language inspired by his meeting with a professor, nicely played by Derek Jacobi. The Finnish director Dome Karukoski sensitively brings all the elements together, and Nicholas Hoult is an outstanding rising star.