Tuesday, July 22, 2014


What is a movie supposed to do if not relate somehow to the everyday and to make you laugh and think and reflect and hurt? Well, Richard Linklater seems to think these goals, which a relatively small number of movies ever successfully attain, are not enough. For him, a movie must challenge the very fabric of what a movie is. Boyhood is such a movie. Better yet, it’s such an achievement.

The narrative structure is, of course, what makes the movie so experimental. It is, after all, nonexistent, and yet, despite the problems it creates, like giving the film no tangible motivation supporting each chronological step forward, it flows better than almost any movie could ever hope to, and, above all, it forces the viewer to reflect.

Boyhood is like life. You go through life with all its pains and joys and monotony, and you come out the other end, not with the complete picture but with memories. The strange thing about memories is their unpredictability. What we remember is not always the most notable moments, though it often is. We are certainly going to remember getting “The Talk” from our dad in the bowling alley, but we may also remember, just as vividly, one of the nights we came home much too late to the accusatory figure and voice and words of our drunken stepfather, a scene that occurred a multitude of times, but that we, for one reason or another, remember this specific instance, though not because of any noticeable difference.

Linklater’s work, as I’ve said, makes us think and reflect and even goes so far so as to challenge what a movie is, but it also makes you laugh, and it makes you hurt. His direction and writing are utterly brilliant, bringing a lifelike intensity to each and every scene. This intensity is not just dramatic, but comedic as well, for what is life if not simultaneously a melodrama and a slapstick comedy all rolled up into one. His vision, the film’s massive scope, is one of the most complete ever, and Sandra Adair’s magnificent editing, no doubt aided by Linklater’s watchful eye, ties it all together with ease, creating a movie so free-flowing and fast-paced I never once looked at my watch during its 166 minute runtime.

It’s so hard to talk about acting in a movie like this. Actors and actresses change in both ability and knowledge as they get older. Thus, making a statement about some of the acting is rather difficult. Ellar Coltrane, as the lead, is slightly above average, I’d say. He’s rather good early on, and his later line deliveries are appropriately impassioned, but his role, not matter his age, is just too limited. Sure, he transforms, but it’s a natural progression from being 6 to being 18. His sister, portrayed by director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater, plays it too cute at the beginning, but matures into, I’d argue, the better actor of the two, though her part is too limited for her to make much of an impact. Patricia Arquette, too, is hampered by a limited role. She is never subpar and always exudes a fabulous sense of motherliness, but she’s too limited. The real star of the show is Ethan Hawke, who steals his every scene. Like his son, he transforms but as an adult, not in his transformative years, and his performance is really both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Boyhood is really all about Linklater and his vision, and oh what a vision it is! It’s a movie that challenges us to reflect on our own lives and that hopes we discover our lives are not about us. Instead our lives are about everyone around us, how they formed us, how they shaped us.


I've changed my rating from a 94 because the often atrocious supporting acting has stuck with me more than most of the other things about it. Also, Mason is just boring as hell.