‘Boyhood’ is a true coming of age story for many reasons. The first and most publicized reason is that the film was shot over the course of 12 years, following this young boy from childhood to adulthood. The Richard Linklater film has received a lot of award buzz and nominations but is it all just hype? The film is a logistical feat, it has some good performances by its actors, the story leaves you feeling nostalgic but it doesn’t live up to its “Best Picture of the Year” title that so many have given it.
The film follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family; showing their experiences and how they evolve into the people they became. Mason lives with his Mom, Olivia (Patricia Arquette), and his sister sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). The children’s father and Olivia’s ex-husband, Mason (Ethan Hawke), isn’t around at the beginning of the movie but as the film progresses, he plays a more prominent role in their lives.
The films brings you on a journey of all life’s experiences; love, sex, drugs, school, relationships, violence, heartbreak, ect. Many of these are experienced first hand by Mason but we also get to see many of these things happen to the people around him, particularly his mother.
Olivia does not have good luck with men in this movie. At the beginning of the movie, she hates the children’s father but eventually warms back up to him. Her second husband, one of her college professors, develops into a hateful alcoholic who beats her and mentally harms to children. Then her third marriage ends up badly. It doesn’t specifically say why it ended but you can guess that it had to do with money, and the tense relationship between him and Mason.
One things that I was really impressed with about this movie is how smoothly everything flowed. It was almost like you did notice that time was going by and that the characters are getting older. Also the actors were able to keep their character consistent even thought the movie was filmed over 12 years. Even though it was shot this way, it felt like it was all done at once and I think it is pretty impressive that the people involved were able to put it together in this way. Also this becomes even more impressive when you find out that all of them worked on different projects at the same time.
I mentioned the actors who deserve a lot of credit for taking on these roles. It isn’t new for actors to sign on for multiple movies that may take a decade to complete but it is unheard of for one to sign on for one movie that takes 12 years. I think that this movie wouldn’t have worked if they didn’t hire actors that were able to maintain a connection with their character that allowed them to be consistent. Also, when they started the film, they didn’t have a complete script so none of the actors knew what would happen to their characters.
I think that of the actors in the movie, Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke gave the best performances. Hawke’s character was very much the Dad that you can sit down, have a beer and talk about girls with. He was just such a chill character and Hawke did an amazing job at it. Coltrane was cast in this role when he was 7 and they completely lucked out with this guy. It didn’t even seem like he was acting; just being himself. He was such a natural and made you feel like you were watching a home movie of an actual child rather than an actor in a Hollywood film.
One of the actors that I think is getting more praise than they actually deserve is Patricia Arquette. I found her performance to be average and not worthy of being compared to the other great works done by other actresses this year. I think that these actors were destined to be recognized in some way because of them doing one character consistently for 12 years.
With that said, I do not think that this is the best movie of the year. Is it a great movie, yes, but not worthy of all the praise it is getting. The film is a logistical feat and has great scope but other than that, not a whole lot going for it. Currently the film is the favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars and I think that if it won, we would look back on that ceremony and realize it was a mistake. I think it would go down as a film that only got its Oscar because of its uniqueness and not necessarily its quality.
Film Mention gives ‘Boyhood’ 4 out of 5 film reels.
‘Boyhood’ was released on August 15, 2014 and stars Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Lorelei Linklater. The film was directed by Richard Linklater.