“Boyhood” Review

Filmed over the course of 12-years, Boyhood is the latest movie from Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater. The story follows a young man, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), vignette-style as he grows from 1st grade to college. I’ve been looking forward to this film since it premiered at Sundance Film Festival back in January. Given its unique premise and the fact that it was helmed by one of my favorite directors, my anticipation for this movie couldn’t have been higher. And I’m happy to report that I wasn’t let down in the slightest.

Due to the experimental nature of the film, the plot is very non-traditional. Rather than focus on an overarching conflict, the story simply follows the characters as they grow up. Some of the characters go through big changes, some stay static, but they all feel real. And at a nearly 3-hour run-time, it still feels short. I would have loved more time to watch these characters grow.

It’s a good thing that Ellar Coltrane grew up to be a relatively solid actor, because he really holds the movie together. Lorelei Linklater plays Mason’s older sister, Samantha. And while the character never really grows past being charismatically annoying, it’s incredibly interesting to see her and Mason grow at the same time, to give perspective. Patricia Arquette gives a fantastic performance as Mason’s single mother, who has the tendency to pick the wrong guy. The real scene stealer is Ethan Hawke though, as Mason’s estranged Dad. No stranger to working with Richard Linklater (They worked together in the “Before” trilogy – another instance of long-term storytelling), he oozes charisma every time he’s onscreen, as a man trying to connect with his kids. The rest of the ensemble is strong as well. And although we don’t see the actors develop through 12 years, the roles are no less defined.

The context of having a theme about life and growing up seems to have made the film fool-proof. There are several instances where a line doesn’t seem to be delivered quite right, and yet it fits just perfectly in the film. The line still feels awkward, but instead of making the film awkward, the film  deflects any responsibility and simply argues that life is awkward. Similarly, there are a couple scenes in the film that are pretty cheesy. However, by this point I had been completely won over by the film, and was able to justify to myself that these scenes were self-aware in themselves.

Boyhood has that x-factor that makes a movie an instant classic. I already know that I’m going to be revisiting this movie every year or so. It’s truly one-of-a-kind, but I don’t think it’s just because of how it was made. The film is so tactfully developed that it becomes much more than just a gimmick. Boyhood is truly a must-see. 10/10.

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