13 July 2004 | hisown
Concrete Is My Hometown
Although I didn't live there during the time the movie was made I did venture up one afternoon to see what the town looked like as a movie set. Remarkably, the town looked much like I remembered from my childhood in the 60's and it was a nice journey back in time. While living in Arizona ('92-2001) I would frequently watch the movie when I was homesick; I enjoyed seeing my old town, my old schools & the surrounding scenic shots. I am now living back in Concrete and sadly, the town has wasted away to nothing; but with This Boy's Life I can go back for an hour or so to when it was a really great place to live and grow-up. The real-life Dwight has since died (everyone who knew him says he was just like book and movie portrayed him) and his real kids dispute the fact that he was an abusive father. Tobias Wolff is, of course, now a well-known writer but remembered as a nice, fun-loving kid who did pretty well weathering the constant stress at home while growing up. A number of Concrete residents still resent the portrayal of our town as a back-woods redneck community that harbors child-abusers.
Unfortunately, the truth hurts & that description pretty much sums up our little spot on the map. But we do have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, lots of fresh air and no gangs so I guess we are better off than a lot of urban environments. Leo DiCaprio did a great job in his role. Ellen Barkin was memorable but I had a hard time feeling much empathy for her character. DiNiro was - well...DiNiro. Every role he touches becomes gold and this one will shine for a long time. This movie was highly underrated in my opinion (and not just because I was biased) and should have gotten more notice after it's release. You can still see it on the pay channels, occasionally on cable networks and of course, video & DVD. The sets, clothing, and music really do justice to the time. See it and you will never forget it! ***small tidbit: on my trip up to Concrete to visit the set I was happened upon DiNiro, DiCaprio & Barkin filming the scene where they were driving for the first time into Concrete. The local sheriff had closed off the highway until the scene was completed but because I knew the area and side rural roads I sneaked up to a spot where I could videotape the car with the three inside going down the highway. I DID get decent video of DiNiro "driving" the car and was thrilled!