2014, Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane
The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO REVIEW THIS MOVIE, LITTLE MISS CINEPHILE????????
Well, simply put, my nearest cinema doesn’t exactly have their ducks in a row. They did not show Boyhood at all, and it took them FOR-FREAKING-EVER to get Birdman, but they showed fecal matter like The Identical, Left Behind, and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas as soon as they came out. Hopefully they made it their New Year’s Resolution to show movies people actually want to see.
Boyhood is not so much a movie as it is a long, intricate, ambitious video scrapbook of someone’s young life and a contemplation of life itself. It astounds me how Richard Linklater managed to keep this such a secret all those years, and how he directed School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly, and two Before movies simultaneously. Linklater musta been one busy SOB in the last decade. Watching School of Rock many times in middle and high school, I never thought Linklater would have something of this magnitude up his sleeve.
I don’t know if I should even bother reviewing Boyhood. Not because it’s a bad movie or I didn’t like it (quite the opposite), but nothing I say will do it justice. It truly must be seen to be believed.
The premise is simple, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grows up and comes of age and all that stuff, but instead of just having different actors, it uses the same cast over the course of twelve years, and Mason literally grows up before our eyes.
A lot could have gone wrong with this risky movie. Someone could have died, someone could have up and left, Linklater could have gone through DPs like Spinal Tap went through drummers, who knows, but fortunately, all went swimmingly. At least, it appears that way.
Patricia Arquette is easily the best actress in the whole film (and Oscar shoo-in!!) as a single mother who bends over backwards for her children. She remarries to an abusive alcoholic (twice) and that makes for some scenes that are truly difficult to stomach. Ethan Hawke is Arquette’s ex-husband, and father to Mason and sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Hawke is a deadbeat dad who tries to be a better father to his children, and his heart-to-hearts with Mason make for some of the sweetest moments in the movie.
For kids like me, who are the same age as Mason, Boyhood is also a huge walk down memory lane!
Does anyone here remember the Motorola Razr?
This silly musical craze? That’s okay. I didn’t either until a character sang “We’re All in This Together”.
This classic moment in SNL history?
Speaking of memories, the soundtrack alone was enough to make me reminisce on my own childhood/adolescence. It wastes no time making me nostalgic, opening with Coldplay’s “Yellow” and ending with Arcade Fire’s “Deep Blue”. You can only imagine what gems (and a few duds) are in between. See if any of these songs ring a bell. Bonus: the film features 2 original songs written by Ethan Hawke. Clearly a multi-talented man, no?
Since there are only a few, let me list the negatives: If you have a short attention span, steer clear, this movie is a hair under three hours. There are moments where the story appears to lose steam, and I was not satisfied with the ending at all. <spoilers>Really? Mason just goes off to college without even saying goodbye to his mom and sister? And without any kind of closure? Little shit.</spoilers>.
Boyhood won’t resonate with everyone. Aside from complaints that it only focuses on a stereotypical white family (which I understand in this diversity-heavy day and age), not everyone will relate to the film. I didn’t see my mom get married three times, and I didn’t move at all as a youth. I always say it’s the worst feeling in the world when you feel someone else’s pain, but you can’t relate because you haven’t dealt with what the other person is dealing with.
Even if I couldn’t relate to all of Mason’s trials and tribulations, I still connected to the film on some levels. I know what it feels like to be alienated from your peers, and to want more out of life than just silly things, and Boyhood spoke to me and said “It’s okay, it’s all part of being human.”
Verdict: twelve years (and five dollars) well spent.