Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Boyhood is the moving story of growing up as told from the perspective of Mason Evans, Jr., an absorbing young boy extraordinarily brought to the screen by the heralded newcomer Ellar Coltrane. As Mason matures and experiences life’s little joys and difficulties, we literally get to witness this boy and his older sister grow up before our eyes. Filmed over a twelve-year period starting back in 2002, Boyhood is a truly one-of-a-kind film that reminds us how great cinema can be.
The brainchild of Austin-based auteur Richard Linklater, Boyhood is the ultimate coming of age film, as we observe this youth go from age 5 to 18. Over that time, we experience the difficulties, hardships, and frustrations of a boy as he tries to discover who he is and what he wants to become in life. Linklater, the film’s writer/director, has such a distinct anti-Hollywood persona that I think it’s easy for many to discount or forget his tremendous contribution to the art of cinema. Slacker is an ultimate cult flick, and Dazed and Confused only grows in stature every year since its arrival in 1993. Rarely has a love story moved so many people like the Before Trilogy has. School of Rock, Bernie, Me and Orson Welles showed that popular movies could still be smart and witty. While becoming the first director to use interpolated rotoscoping to create an entire feature film, Linklater pushed the boundaries of what was possible with digital animation—first with Waking Life, which examined the ever fascinating topics of dreams, reality, and existence; then with A Scanner Darkly which explored the frightening depths of a drug-addled, dystopian future. With Boyhood, Richard Linklater has officially ascended to the top echelon of American directors. It is time to stand up and give him a sincere and well-deserved round of applause. We are witnessing an iconic career in the making.
What can be said about this film’s breakout headliner, Ellar Coltrane? To say Linklater hit the lottery when casting this young man so many years ago would be an understatement. Without his unwavering commitment and faithfulness to the project over the last twelve years, none of this would have been possible. Ellar’s delivery and self-assurance in this character’s skin is truly engrossing throughout. His ability to keep us transfixed and utterly fascinated for almost three hours is a testament to his charisma. As for Ellar’s much-publicized onscreen maturation, Linklater’s choice of subtle, almost seamless transitions from one year to the next offers a very gradual aging process that only later in the film becomes wondrously apparent as we reflect back on Ellar’s appearance at the beginning. And it is through Ellar’s transformative maturation that we are constantly reminded over and over how miraculous this whole endeavor truly is. So many of us have an innate desire to leave something lasting in this world before we pass away. At only age twenty, Ellar Coltrane is off to quite a start at accomplishing such a lofty goal.
Because the film in entitled Boyhood, and Mason, our film’s protagonist, is the driving force in the story’s progression, Ellar has been receiving, and rightfully so, a large majority of the praise. But we mustn’t minimize the contributions and experiences of fellow child actress Lorelei Linklater who offers an equally impressive and graceful portrayal of Mason’s older sister Samantha. Daughter of film’s director, Lorelei was eight when filming started, and just like Ellar, we are granted the privilege of seeing her grow up on screen. Her performance as the older sister feels as natural as watching someone’s home videos. The fights, concern, and love she feels for and shares with Mason is a lasting tribute to her budding artistry throughout this process along with the bond that grew between these two emerging stars. I hope this once-in-a-lifetime experience for Lorelei was and remains a cherished memory shared with her father as they are both thrust into the spotlight these next few months and for years to come.
Rarely do actors as talented and famous as Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette ever take a backseat to anyone when working on a project as they are asked to here playing separated parents, Mason Sr. and Olivia. As we get to see the two children grow up, we also witness Hawke and Arquette’s aging, which is a singularly unique experience unto itself. Never before have movie fans and critics been asked to judge a performance spanning twelve years like they are here. Of the two, it is Arquette’s affecting portrayal of a single mother struggling to keep her family together that is the glue the binds the ever-changing storylines of Boyhood. Arquette’s ability to bring consistency to her role, year after year, is what I most remember about her touching performance. Arquette ably captures the fears and frustrations brought on by the unanticipated difficulties that many parents face in today’s fast-paced society. I hope the Academy won’t overlook her contributions next Oscar season, as Arquette is more than deserving of a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
When writing many of my reviews, I make a very concerted effort to limit my use of flowery superlatives. I consciously do this so that when I am lucky enough to come across film that…makes my insides smile, the praise I convey has the intended impact on anyone else who may read my thoughts. With that in mind, there’s no way for me to describe Boyhood any other way than as a truly transcendent film experience. For all intents and purposes, Boyhood is the “coming of age” film all others will now be compared to. The mind-blowing accomplishment of creating a film that spans twelve years is praiseworthy feat in itself. But Linklater takes what could have resulted in a contrived gimmick and turns it into a poignant and expressive film about the unique moments that make up a boy’s journey to adulthood, and in turn he asks us to reflect upon and contemplate our personal journeys. Furthermore, Linklater creates a cinematic time capsule of this post 9/11 period of explosive cultural and technological changes, all while offering a subtle portrait of the effects these changes had on the youth growing up during this generation. I tend not to make declarative statements like this so early in the movie year, but Boyhood IS the best film of 2014. I invite any other movie out there to try to change my mind.-JL
I went to see Boyhood but I mostly saw Motherhood. Strange how we see stories from our own perspective. As much as the character of the boy was passive, the life of this mother that represents the life of many mothers was ambitious and dynamic.
A young women who has two children with an idealist man who eventually started to become more ‘responsible’ once he met a wife with whom he has a young baby, towards the end of the movie, once the son is 18.
Olivia, the mother, raise her two kids alone, she studies and reads a masters degree. She teaches at College. She makes two more mistaken marriage with two weak men falling into alcohol. She remains responsible for these kids that the funny laughing biological father sees every now and again. She save them from a professor and well established second husband whose alcohol excess makes him abusive with the children. She continues with her work. Builds a life for her family and a nice house. She has a strong intellect and her students much appreciate her. She is a hard worker, responsible and a dynamic person while the biological father is more into his big political ideals and music playing.
With much effort, she teaches and educates generations of kids. Her own boy suffers from being dragged behind, in the shadow of his mum and bright sister. We see how this woman inspires a Hispanic immigrant to go and study when he expresses his gratitude for her while Olivia’s own son is leaving her. She has been the only one always there for this son who has dyslexia and eventually found his way as an artist photographer.
Sadly, she has to accept she spends years to build a life and accumulate wealth that she has to dilapidate now that kids are grown up and leaving her.
Such is the life of many mothers whose talents and skills are put at the service of raising kids whom eventually leave them one day alone.
Olivia could have been a brilliant professor.
At the son’s graduation reception, the father offers money to thank her for what she has accomplished. So ugly and disgraceful for such a devoted mother.
The story of Olivia is definitely another impressive aspect of the film. The fact that each of us can experience Boyhood in different ways speaks to the skill of the writing and filmmaking of Linklater. As someone who has always associated Arquette with her performance in True Romance, I’m excited to have another impressive role to enjoy and identify with. I’m glad you enjoyed Boyhood as well and thanks for visiting our site. Happy viewing 😉
You know I don’t agree about PA already… Seemed wooden and contrived at times…I do however give the concept and execution an A+…What a really good idea it was/is and (mostly) well done….Mostly bc some of the scenes could have been a bit more succinct. Bet that comes from shooting hundreds of feet/minutes of hand cam + without script…Really good job with kids’ casting all seemed “real”…And of course Ellar Coltrane is a jewel. Great emotive range when young, something he appropriately tucked away as he reached his teens…
On another note, just saw “What If” at the Regal…Daniel Radcliffe cutesy love story…Enjoyed it…but it is what it is…What was amazing were the trailers for upcoming small movies…I swear I’ve got to start taking a note pad to write down some of the names…One can only hope that some of these actually make it here (sample: Cumberbach as the gay mathematician who figured out Enigma code in WWII; Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawking…and several more!!).
haha, knowing your feelings about PA, I made sure to pay more attention to her, and while I remember there being was one scene in particular I would call a bit melodramatic for my taste, overall, I thought she did a great job. Overall, I walked out of the theater truly moved and excited to have seen the movie. It inspired Michelle and I to spend the rest of the night flipping through photo albums.
I’m a big fan Zoe Kazan, so I’ve had What If on my radar. Did you ever see Ruby Sparks? It was a film she wrote and starred in, I really enjoyed it. I’m glad to see Regal got it in this week, we’ll have to see if we can make it up there sometime to catch it before it disappears.
ZK is Elia Kazan’s granddaughter…Talent runs in family (notwithstanding HUAC!)…Saw something about Ruby Sparks last year/year before…but that’s all…Hard to find that sort of thing when it’s gone…Looking for God’s Pocket for instance rt now…Released in May 2014…
Another 2014 movie I’ve been chomping at the bit to see is Locke, and excited to see it finally arrived at Red Box this week. I’m hoping to grab it and watch it tomorrow.
The Tom Hardy flic? And what is redbox?
Have you really never used Redbox? It’s the new way to rent dvds. They are generally inside Walmarts and outside drug stores. They cost $1.30 a night.
And yes, Locke is the Tom Hardy flick. I’ve heard some real good things about it and I’m a very big Hardy fan.
Haven’t rented a movie in years so don’t really keep up. Used to be an every week at least once thing (mostly at Hastings and the like…). Now able to see more than I used to in theatre. And since until recently I was in Houston a lot more, I could go to Sundance and River Oaks to see the smaller films…Tend now to buy them via Amazon…Less than price of tickets for two…How I have seen for instance just this week Hyde Park on the Hudson and a while back The Sapphires (I love Chris O’Dowd). Watch a lot of PBS and have bought the Foyle’s War and Doc Martin completes, Duchess of Duke Street, Rumpole of the Bailey and the like as well…Part of the reason I was saying I need to take something to write down names of movies that I know will never…EVER come anywhere near here when I next go to Regal to see a small film, so I can support them via purchase when they get reasonable…Have to admit I routinely cull the bins and Big Lots and WMart for the $5 and unders as well. Surprising sometimes what’s there…
Off to finally see Lucy today…Need some relief from Linda’s ongoing family grief and two hours of throw away action flic ought to help!!!
Finally got my hands on Dom Hemingway. Reviews have been mixed so fingers crossed Jude can win me over. The selection in theaters around Tyler has been awful these last few weeks. Fall movie time can’t come quick enough.
Sept. 1 Reply to AC (JL)…
I liked Dom Hemingway…Saw it in theatre in Houston…Jude Law is a hoot and way out of his usual…and I’ve always like Richard Grant (Posh Nosh guy…)…That said plot was thin as tissue paper…Sometimes ya just gotta admire the acting and let that go.
As for late summer, Chef is on at Rose. We broke down and went to the Giver last weekend and November Man one night last week…Sure am glad I got matinee prices…!!
Yes, it got an A+.
Nice 🙂 I’m happy to hear you loved it too. My expectations were super high for the film and Linklater somehow managed to exceed them. I walked out of the theater on cloud nine. While I don’t particularly enjoy giving $10 a ticket to Cinemark 14, I’m glad they were able to bring Boyhood to Tyler.
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