Jul 31, 2014

Review: Boyhood (2014)

Richard Linklater is no stranger to making crazy movies. The Before trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is basically just two people talking for an entire movie. On the surface you'd think that'd be pretty boring but with great and genuine performances, it's really easy to like. Spread out over a period of eighteen years, it's like looking at the lives of two people over that time and it's just an incredible piece of work all put together. Boyhood isn't so different except that it's one film that focuses on the life of one boy over a period of twelve years and filmed over eleven years. 

Boyhood is long at close to three hours but it doesn't feel like it. Twelve years seems to go by so fast and the only hint that I got that a lot of time had passed was when I really had to go to the bathroom after drinking my large Coke, which was at around the last quarter of the movie. You think I was going to leave the movie and come back? Not a chance. Every year Richard Linklater got together with his cast and shot what could just be a short film before packing it in until next time. I didn't want to miss a second of Mason Jr.'s life. My bladder could wait.


Genre: drama
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Produced by: Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring, etc
Written by: Richard Linklater
Music by: N/A
Running time: 166 minutes
Production company: IFC Productions, Detour Filmproduction
Distributed by: IFC Films
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $2,400,00
Box office: $44,495,281 (Worldwide) (as of April 13)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater, Steven Chester Prince, Libby Villari, Marco Perella, Jamie Howard, Elijah Smith



Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is a six year-old boy who lives with his single parent mom Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Mason's biological father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) is currently away in Alaska and hasn't been seen in over a year. Olivia and Mason Sr. had kids very young and neither was exactly ready for parenthood. Olivia decides to move closer to her mother (Libby Villari) and pursue a college degree to get a higher paying job and provide for her kids better. However, Mason Jr. and Samantha are unhappy with the decision to leave behind their friends. We closely follow Mason Jr.'s progression after this pretty much for another decade from teenagehood to adulthood as well as everyone around him in his life.




The unbelievable scope seems to go by in a flash. We are seeing Mason Jr. and everyone in his life grow older and change. They change in physical appearances and they change in what kind of character they are. It's an incredible look into people's lives. (Spoilers) Take Mason Sr. for example. When he's first introduced, we're not necessarily supposed to dislike him, but we are at the very least supposed to be disapproving. He leaves his family for Alaska before coming back and then trying to win over his kids with presents and a good time. It's only later on that we see Mason Sr. becoming a really good, stable presence for both Mason Jr. and Samantha. He's a steady rock in the ever-changing lives of Samantha and Mason Jr. (End Spoilers

Obviously the most incredible transformation to watch is Mason Jr.'s. How much of Mason is a character from a film script and how much is Ellar Coltrane I don't know but it's a spectacle to watch. The experiences that he goes through echo a lot of what I went through as a kid born in the 90's. I remember not wanting to do anything else but play video games from morning to night. I still do! But Mason grows up right in front of our eyes. It's still easy to see the six year-old we were first introduced to though. 

The best way to describe the performances is impossibly organic. Never does Boyhood feel like watching characters in a movie. You don't see actors following a script. Part of that is probably because the actors contributed to the script and made their performances truly theirs. It's all so natural and so, "uncinematic" I guess. Richard Linklater captures everything very nicely but simply too. Also, never do the scenes filmed in the early 2000's look outdated compared to the more recently filmed portions. Everything flows as naturally as a river despite being filmed in such a disjointed way. 

I honestly don't know what to say in terms of criticism. Is there actually anything bad about Boyhood? When has life every been so faithfully captured? The title is Boyhood but you might as well call it Life. This is a movie about the family of the 90's and everything that happens to them. This could've been a documentary of such a family for how believable it is. It's a perfect film and an incredible journey. Boyhood deserves all the attention it's getting and I am sure that it's going to get some major attention comes awards season. It better anyway because it's an instant classic. Everyone should make time to watch the amazing slice of life masterpiece that Richard Linklater has been able to create in Boyhood.



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