Boyhood – Review

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Starring: Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke
Written for the screen and directed by: Richard Linklater
Metacritic Rating: 100
IMDb Rating: 8.3/#137 of Top 250 movies on IMDb (As of Feb. 6, 2015)

By now, if you’ve heard of this movie, you know what makes it fascinating: 12 years in the making and that the stars age naturally throughout. Linklater shot scenes of the movie throughout the past 12 years to see how the kids and adults age and wrote around that concept. As a concept, it’s brilliant and is a technical marvel. Linklater deserves all the praise he’s getting for the job he did shooting this movie.

But as a movie…

Boyhood follows the life of Mason (Coltrane), from the time he is 6 to the time he starts college at 18. The movie chronicles how is family dynamic changes with his mom Vivian (Arquette), his sister Samantha (Linklater) and his father Mason Sr. (Hawke)

This is a flawed masterpiece in filmmaking. To keep the feel and emotional brevity this film has consistent in the 12 year cycle it had, along with the way this movie keeps its shot composition in check without it changing jarringly and drastically is something that is to be applauded.

The feeling of the effect of the maturity and aging of the main character is actually organic, which is striking when realizing how much Ellar Coltrane changes throughout the film. For the majority of the film, there’s a tinge of feeling that you never have quite taken from a movie that this film made: soulful.

Many movies have a soul of what it’s encompassing, giving a general idea of how it feels to be in a characters shoes or in a specific situation. But there hasn’t really been a movie that feels like it has an actual heart, mind and soul. There is this encompassing feeling of an actual place being constructed and blossomed before our eyes; a place at which we see life. Not life played out before us, but watching actual life. Think of it as a dramamentary.

It’s a movie, as a person who genuinely loves movies, is something that will stick in my mind for as long as I live.

As a critic, however, there are glaring problems.

The movie takes a long time to get going, as the first hour drags to find a firm footing in what it wants to do. This is mainly due to Ellar Coltrane, who (as a child) isn’t really believable or even likable as a child. Neither is Lorelei Linklater for the most part. The first hour is essentially the first hour of any kind of family drama.

The film doesn’t really get a hold onto a specific plot or feel until after an hour into the movie, which by any stretch is not something anyone would slog through. It may be harsh, but if you were going to make a movie about young children dealing with their parents being divorced, there are plenty of movies that do it and Boyhood does not do a good job of staying engaging with that.

I’ll also throw this little nugget: Ellar Coltrane is only good in about a little over an hour of the movie. His high school times are clearly his best acting chops, which due to maturity that only makes sense. But to sit through what can really only be described as wooden for an hour and a half to then be treated by a respectable actor is hard to sit through at times.

He’s still better than Lorelei Linklater in this film, who is just annoying and flat-out unlikable. Even for a character who is supposed to be self-important and kind of a brat, she can’t really even emote that correctly.

It’s funny, the saving graces of the film are Hawke and (especially) Arquette, whom the latter puts in one of the better performances seen from any actress in a while. Both actually show the more interesting parts of the film and what the movie is supposed to represent through the child: growth and maturity. Their transformations of characters are excellent and believable, which makes both characters incredibly endearing.

Boyhood is a tough film to really criticize or talk about. All opinions are valid on what the faults of the films are, but they can be explained away by this amazing process that somehow makes the film still very watchable because of said process. It’s an incredibly unique film that even with its problems, it must be seen to be believed.

As a movie lover, Boyhood is this wondrous movie that can’t be put into a genre or really shouldn’t be compared to other films.

As a movie critic, it could have been a tighter film if they just made about having a high schooler grow into being a college student.

No matter what, this movie deserves to be seen.

3.5/5 – Linklater’s vision should be praised, his editing should not. Coltrane has some good stuff, but the film belongs to Hawke and Arquette.

The Wiz Says #2

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