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Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. Written by
Don't be fooled into thinking "Boyhood" is great because its technique is unusual. It is a case of style over substance and quality.
"Boyhood" Hits all the Marks and Still Misses
"Boyhood" is a critical darling, and that's putting it mildly. It has a nice, non-controversial family, and it presents every "coming of age" childhood milestone at least once. Thus, it has no focus. The technique, filming the movie over 12 years with the same actors, is an interesting experiment in film. However, its technique gets in the way of quality story telling and substance. Trying something innovative does not mean the film should get a pass and automatically get raves.
In the film there's one bullying event, one break up, one drunken night with the guys, one of everything, like a sample platter at Golden Corral. There was even one non-white character in the film. Moreover, there is no follow up on any of the events. What is so masterful about that? The film has a series of disconnected events in a boys life that had no focus. "Growing up" is not a plot, no matter how many people are fooled into believing it is. The dialogue was contrived. It's as if every line from teenage Mason was taken from a Smith's song. As I was watching, I couldn't help thinking, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now " At least the film didn't have an out of place tragedy like a "Girlfriend in a Coma." Yes, I wanted to stop him, for I had heard that one before. Morrissey does pathos better and with him we don't have to suffer through two hours of pretentiousness.
Mason was too confident about his misery. His dialogue we pre-packaged, as if he was reciting a script, not living in the moment. The film features a series of moments, a few interesting ones, but mostly tiresome first world problems from an uninteresting boy and family. As a film buddy of mine stated, "the film could have been called 'The Discreet Charm of the Petite Bourgeoisie.' " However, it wasn't charming, nor funny, nor revelatory or original like the Buñuel classic.
With the exception of Ethan Hawke, who, to be fair, had the best dialogue in the film, the acting was mediocre. Perhaps filming the movie over 12 years made it hard for the actors to stay sharp and focused on their characters, so the acting was uneven throughout. There was nothing of note in the music, other than the cliché' of highlighting the passage of time with a hit song in various scenes. It was cute at first, then it became tiresome.
Rating: Rent it
If your sister, mother, brother or friend wants to see it, you can watch it together and not upset anyone with confusing events like actual poverty and unexpected occurrences like black people appearing on the screen. Moreover, you can talk during the film because there is no need to really pay close attention while it is playing. You won't miss anything. Otherwise, see the infinitely better "The Way Way Back" if you want to see a cute coming of age movie.
This movie has already risen into the pantheon of overrated movies, even before it wins some undeserved Oscars. It was style over substance. If I had to describe this film in one word, other than overrated, it would be "trite."
Peace, Tex Shelters
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