Boyhood – Review
“Boyhood”, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater, is a story revolving around the Evan’s family as they go through their own life‘s journey as a typical young modern American family leap frogging through the filter of joys and pitfalls that all Mothers and Fathers - children and teenagers will discover and probably have to endure. Those being a troubled marriage, issues of sex, career changes, teenage long hair, breaking curfew, bad music, arguing, cell phones, Facebook, alcohol - drugs and peer pressured relationships. What makes this film unique beyond its conventional description into one of the most monumental, audacious and visionary efforts in film making I have seen, is that all of the core actors listed above committed themselves to making this 2:45 minute film in 2001 by showing up one week a year for 12 straight years to film this one entire movie. What are we left with is something far more than watching Ethan Hawke as the “Dad” or Ellar Coltrane as “Mason” aka “Boyhood” age and mature before our very eyes. No, this movie buries down quietly, softly and without typical Hollywood artificial or contrived fanfare into our very viewing DNA without a single moment of tragedy, death or overly shocking suspense filled surprises. Yes, absent these typical gimmicks the movie gradually and gently offers up the extraordinary reconfirmation of the importance of having a loving and supportive family in our lives.
With national new stories as out bench marks to gives us a historical time line to the film’s story itself, we start through the 12 year life cycle journey where we see initially a fresh and angelic face “Mason” as a 6 year old, his 2 years older nagging sister Samantha and his “Mom” and “Dad”. And it’s from that beginning the film moves forward without any forced moments or need to rush the story along, where we get to see very gradually a family not unlike many families; probably like our very own, scenes play out with some reflective familiarity where we get to experience episodes bathed in real like drama, real unexpected comedy, real heartwarming charm, real odd quirkiness, real unexpected sadness and real much appreciated joy. Director Linklater uses his lens very minimally and with limited invasiveness or intrusiveness as we get to be symbiotic observers of the Evan’s family with very little regard for the actors aging and growing bodies and their obvious changes in voice and maturity. We more importantly get to feel a part of them at every step; to vicariously live and experience their lives all the way to where we see as a referencing backdrop to the story at the end a slightly bearded 18 year “Mason” (same actor) with a masculine voice.
I guarantee you have never seen a film like “Boyhood”. You will find yourself feeling like a smiling fly sitting on the proverbial wall as you see and hear both the subtle and yet noticeable changes in the actors as they stay brilliantly committed to this cinematic vision and the emotional nature of the characters they are inhabiting. And while the story revolves largely around the younger son named “Mason Evans Jr” and his adolescences to adulthood tale, the film manages very well to capture all of the central character’s evolution into maturity as well.
Not a documentary or a regular film with a pleasant voice-over narration, I loved “Boyhood” for its brilliant simplicity. This movie is not about people who have some extraordinary or genuinely unique qualities about them. No, it’s just the opposite, they are totally ordinary people with their real life on display with authentic long and meaningful conversations in tow as the only real tool available for parents with small children hopefully guiding their small lives into burgeoning young adults and eventually into full blown adults.
There are probably a thousand things that could have gone wrong over the 12 years in the making of this film, ranging from the actors simply dying at some point, the kids’ lives turning in some dramatic way that prevented them from acting in this role at some point, to the film simply not being finished at all. But it did get made and it was an abundant delight to have experienced it.
This film flourishes with raw simplicity from beginning to end and for that it may not meet everyone’s need for a “cup of pyro technic action filled tea”, but it will be in my top ten films for 2014 and will certainly be talked about seriously as an Academy Award Best Picture nominee, as a Best Director nominee and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette and richly deserving for all should that happen.
Today this film is in limited release but goes nationwide in a theater near you July 25, 2014. If you are open to seeing something truly original, “Boyhood” is the best at that this year.
4 Stars Plus