Sorry for the three week hiatus! School is getting started, and with that, we take a look at a boy getting through school himself in Boyhood, the incredible 12 year project directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Ethar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, it is rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use.
Boyhood follows the life of Mason Evans as he lives his life from age six to eighteen. We see how he deals with multiple divorces, girls, and the overall stresses that come with being a teenager while living with single mother Olivia (Arquette) and occasionally spending time with has father (Hawke). Throughout his journey, Mason learns that there is a whole lot more to life than he originally thought.
8 out of 10
I’ve gotta hand it to Richard Linklater and the actors, it takes 12 years of extreme devotion to film a project like this (12 Years a Slave to this movie amiright?). Regardless, they stuck with it all the way through to produce something extremely unique and eye-opening; the literal development of a teenage boy as we go through the years. It’s impossible to not be awed by his growth. As someone just a few youngers than Mason Evans Jr, I feel an automatic connection with the movie. However, I can recognize that this movie certainly does have its faults (unlike Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic).
Great acting is critical for a drama, especially for one like this. Certain acting performances in the movie were surreal. The children, Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater, were incredibly cute yet realistic. I could remember having the same arguments and childish fights with my sister. Additionally, Patricia Arquette was very good in the beginning, forcing me to genuinely believe her to be the loving mother of those two children. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Ethan Hawke was the best actor of the film. The scenes between Hawke and Coltrane, dad and son, were unbelievably realistic, no doubt among the highlights of the film. Both actors formed a great connection making it easy to believe that the two actors were actually father and son. Hawke and Coltrane’s chemistry was undoubtedly the bright spot of the film.
And the dark spots? Look no further than the scenes that featured obviously amateur teenage actors. The two scenes I can distinctly remember were the last scene and the scene where they camped out at the abandoned house. Both of those scenes failed to capture the realistic dialogue the rest of the movie had. The primary problem was that it was trying too hard. From experience, I can tell you that that conversations they were having were fake. The last scene, likewise, was exceptionally fabricated. These two scenes, plagued by poor dialogue and indication, were two scenes that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I think I’m exaggerating a bit, but beyond this, the movie was perfection.
The storytelling was utterly incredible. I was never out of it, enjoying it from beginning till end. This movie was 2 hours and 45 minutes, and yet I never got bored because of Richard Linklater incredible ability to keep a story with the potential to become dull so heartwarming and interesting. The comedic moments are perfection, but is also balanced out with dark scenes of alcoholism, teenage struggles, and everything in between. Not only are we captured by the film making, but we are so invested in the story of this young boy simply growing up, all thanks to Linklater’s masterful direction. The cinematography is sparkling, providing the movie with the authentic, nostalgic feeling that Linklater is going for. It’s not IMAX, 3-D, HD junk. It almost has the feel of a home camera (but better quality).
In the end, this movie relays a really nice message. Though Mason Evans Jr. ends up outright saying it, Boyhood really is about letting the moment capture you. Not only is this ideology seen in the last scene (when he literally says it outright; yes I am still annoyed by that), but it’s present throughout the entire film. The movie consists of different moments that combine to make the life of Mason Evans Jr. a dazzling reality. The progression is a truly incredible thing to watch, making Boyhood one of the better films of the year.
But if there’s one thing that has been lost in the shuffle of moviemaking because of this, its characterization. Rather, not characterization but character-driven movies. Movies that basically hand you a person’s life story and tell you to make some plot or some definitive arc out of it. This is a mammoth task considering any character-piece that hopes to be realistic in capturing life isn’t going to just hand you a direct series of related events that come to some fruition.So where does Boyhood (A movie that fuses a coming of age drama with a twelve year old documentary with fierce precision) land in all this? As you may have guessed just from the premise, definitely more towards the character-driven side yet it manages to have just the right amount of story to spark some structure and get the thematic wheels spinning.
I try not to mince words so I’ll just lay this out now: Boyhood is a very hard movie to describe much less analyze. Asking somebody to review this is like asking someone to invest in some child’s life for over a decade and then quizzing them on everything they learned. There’s way too much to delve into, summarize and describe so I’ll just do my best.
Mason Evans is a kid from an unstable family who has to deal with constant change (Man, if this movie captured anything, it was the volatility of life and all of the curveballs that come with it). The movie uses the same cast to drop in on Evans’ life every year and details the struggles his single mother faces that inadvertently affect him, his first romances, fallouts with his father and education. Whew, that list’s an order taller than Shaq and it doesn’t even do justice to everything that occurs.
Of course, with the wrong actors, this could have easily been a lost cause. Child actors who have enough commitment to stick a project of this length are few and far between but they hit a grand slam with Ellar Coltrane, who must have a lot of patience to get involved with this. Having the right child actors who are actually, well, children somehow automatically grants the characters with some depth. This goes for Mason’s sister as well.
Let’s go back to that spiel about character-driven pieces from the beginning. I’d like to take a moment to recognize that Richard Linklater, the director and screenwriter of this film, has an incredibly penchant for capturing the pace of life with the impact of a planned storyline. The actors certainly do a great job of carrying the material over but Linklater galvanized all these disjointed domestic events by tying it all together in the film’s final moments (Which I wouldn’t dare spoil for anyone).
There’s nothing better than a film with no real equal; one that innovates and synthesizes its own style that nobody can even try to match. Boyhood is that film. So see it because you never know how long it will take for the next one of that tier to come out.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%