Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Marco Parella
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Synopsis: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.
Richard Linklater can do no wrong in my eyes. I mean, look at his vast and mixed resume; one of the best trilogies of all time with the ‘Before’ trilogy, classics such as Dazed and Confused, cerebral sci-fi (rotoscoped no less) in A Scanner Darkly, heart warming comedy in School of Rock or a film that helped start the 80’s/90’s indie movement, Slacker.
There aren’t many directors who can make such a good job of such different types of movie. And so it goes with perhaps his greatest achievement, Boyhood. A feat of cinema, the film was shot over a twelve year period. That in itself is a huge achievement and shows a dedication to making something special. To get the same actors together numerous times over twelve years and get back into character is fantastic, and not to mention the fact that presumably there would have been a fair chance that one of them may have quit or even died during those twelve years, which presumably would have nixed the whole thing.
Boyhood is less a story and more a document, or a time capsule. It portrays a boy, Mason and his family as their lives plod along over twelve years. We open the film with Mason, a chubby but angelic five year old, and close the film with him as a skinny, spotty, emo-ish eighteen year old off to college. This sounds unremarkable until you factor in that two and a half hours earlier that same person was five! It lends the whole thing a real poignancy compared with a standard film using different child actors and/or makeup. The film simply wouldn’t hold up in that case.
We grow with the characters over the twelve years, be it Mason’s sister (played by Linklater’s own daughter Lorelei) or his put upon mum (Patricia Arquette) or his estranged but fun Dad (Linklater regular Ethan Hawke). This is not a film that will be enjoyed by everyone, as nothing much happens in terms of plot. It is simply about life and everything that goes with it, from kids growing up, to adults fighting and seperating. It may appeal to an older generation more, who have lived through their kids growing up and can see something of themselves in the adults who pepper the movie.
Boyhood is a triumph from start to finish in my eyes. OK, maybe it could have done with fifteen minutes lopped off the end, but a film that actually shows it’s characters ageing before your eyes in a mix of comedy, happiness, emotion, domestic violence and drama should be as long as at was. If you are going to make a film over twelve years, there doesn’t seem any sense in making it ninety minutes long.
Bring on Linklater’s next extravaganza!