Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Stars: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke
Release date: July 11, 2014
Distributor: IFC Films
Running time: 165 minutes
Best part: Coltrane’s naturalistic performance.
Worst part: The antagonistic husband characters.
The film production process takes a helluva lot out of the directors, writers, actors etc. involved. Usually, these important people plan and execute a major Hollywood feature within roughly 7-13 months. Following this, the stars sit in chairs for extended periods as film journos ask them the same questions over and over again. However, in the case of coming-of-age experiment Boyhood, the process went a little differently. This dramedy sports one of cinema history’s most fascinating and exhaustive production schedules.
Documentaries like the Up series develop time capsules marked by iconic moments and interesting subjects. Beyond Boyhood‘s behind-the-scenes allure, the movie itself suggests, then proves, that the journey is far more important than the destination. As per the Hollywood code, this dramedy is easy to understand so as to attract a larger audience. However, the movie’s development goes beyond the words of this or any other review. This is an experiment of monumental proportions. As you can tell from my manic hyperbole, I mark Boyhood as a game-changer for filmmaking, modern entertainment, and pop-culture. So, what is this movie about? Well, it’s difficult to explain within such a short space. Going beyond belief, the art of storytelling is flipped and switched here. The narrative chronicles the uneasy life and times of two youngsters. Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is a child fascinated by everything and everyone on Earth. As a child, his lifestyle revolves around causing trouble and discovering the world. On the other side of the coin, his sister Samantha strives to fit in with the pack. Their story hits several snags, as their mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) is forced to shift and turn to suit everyone’s needs and desires. Living in a single-parent household, Mason Jr. and Samantha are forced to put up with a slew of drunken step-dads, empathetic step-children, and dramatic events. Despite the obstacles, they’re fuelled by their infatuation with Olivia and biological father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke).
Over this extensive timeline, the narrative points to, and fires at, everything the title suggests. The journey from childhood to adolescence, despite delivering a wondrous sense of freedom, is defined by major downsides and punishing conflicts. Surprisingly, for humans between 6 and 16, questions far outweigh answers. Boyhood extensively, and sensitively, examines this particular period. Director Richard Linklater (School of Rock, The Before trilogy) is America’s most invigorating indie-drama director. Covering the 1990s and 2000s, his succinct style and note-worthy agenda bolster everything he produces, writes, and directs. Putting his head and heart in the right place, this 12-year project is his most prescient and gripping creation. Intending to tell history’s most relatable narrative, Linklater’s latest effort marks specific moments and ideas. As the years collide, Linklater hurls us into this pacy and sumptuous 3-hour experience. Focusing on Coltrane and his own daughter, the acclaimed filmmaker’s style speaks wonders for the cinematic dreamscape and all its benefits. His goals and viewpoints, though unsubtle, elevate a potentially tedious story. With realism defeating fantasy here, Boyhood covers two people’s worlds and life’s tiniest details. Thanks to the poignant narrative, each character’s triumphs and tribulations hit home. Transitioning between milestones and significant others, our leads stay connected to one another despite the momentous hurdles.
“You don’t want the bumpers. Life doesn’t give you bumpers.” (Mason, Sr. (Ethan Hawke), Boyhood).
Of course, like with his previous efforts, Linklater’s agenda is pushed upon us unlike any other filmmaker’s. Set during and after the George W. Bush era, our democratic characters face off against a Republican-fuelled Middle America. Stepping into Mason Sr.’s shoes, several monologues are reserved for Linklater’s ultra-ambitious political beliefs to take flight. However, these viewpoints never become tiresome. Touching upon Barrack Obama’s pre-election promises, the movie even takes the time to point out the country’s most ecstatic and misjudged democrats. In addition, this family flick pays homage to Linklater’s immense, 12-year learning curve. Touching upon Dazed and Confused‘s subject matter in the third act, Boyhood chronicles this director’s ascension from indie sweetheart to determined professional. As the years go by, we see Linklater’s style adapt to its surroundings and improve immensely. From the School of Rock era to the Bernie period, the movie depicts his interests and pet peeves across an epic timeline. In addition, his idiosyncratic camerawork and pitch-perfect soundtrack choices develop a world of possibilities for the movie’s courageous narrative. Most importantly, Coltrane’s performance, by mimicking normalcy, soars above and beyond expectations. Tapping into his own identity, this effort examines this man’s mind, personality, and heart.
Most of the time, indie-dramas slip through the cracks to be left for elite cinephiles to lap up. With big-budget features casting a gigantic shadow over the industry, we’ve made a habit of complaining about these issues. However, every so often, breakout hits like Boyhood shine a light on the problem and bring people back to the theatre. These movies, delivering joyous surprises and winning stories, give us a warm, refreshing feeling every time. This achievement, blitzing filmmaking’s varying restraints, is the work of people in love with cinema.