Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Boyhood - Movie Review

Boyhood is a groundbreaking motion picture created over a 12 year period by writer and director Richard Linklater who has also been responsible for films like Dazed and Confused, Slacker, and Before Sunrise. The movie stars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Brad Hawkins, Zoe Graham, and Marco Perrella.

Boyhood is the story of Mason (Coltrane), his older sister Samantha (Linklater), and their estranged parents (Arquette and Hawke) as they grow, change, adapt, and struggle to survive over a pivotal 12 year period in their lives. While the story is interesting in its own way, the real achievement in making this movie is how it was actually filmed over a 12 year period so the audience literally gets to see the family age as the story unfolds. No camera tricks here, this is the real deal.

While it's pretty amazing to watch the cast get older as the movie progresses, I also believe the length of time that takes place is also one of the movie's downfalls. I was often confused as to exactly where we were in the timeline and I never once felt like I was seeing a cohesive narrative unfold. It was more like random glimpses into these people's daily lives without any major drama or emotional impact. Sure, there were some moments here and there that provided bits of drama, but none of it really stuck with me as I kept waiting to discover the ultimate reason why I was needing to watch this particular group of people. For me, that moment never came and, when the movie ended, I was like...um...what just happened. Meanwhile, and this is where people might get upset with me, I thought Mason was about the most uninteresting character I have seen in a movie in a long, long time.

It's hard for me to knock a project like this as it truly is an incredible thing Linklater has achieved although I couldn't help but be disappointed with the final product. Part of it may have been unrealistic expectations after having only recently watched Linklater's "Before" trilogy which absolutely blew me away and was such an emotionally powerful series of films. Watching Boyhood was the polar opposite of those movies in just about every way. I was unable to get invested in any of the characters and the story never was able to fully grab my attention which made for a very mundane and uninteresting experience. As far as the acting is concerned, I give the cast all the respect in the world for committing to this project from the start and then being able to deliver consistent character performances over more than a decade. That being said, I don't feel like any single performance really stands out and the acting overall, if you remove the time factor, is nothing more than solid across the board. 

Watching Boyhood really made me sad as I had such high hopes and, for me, it never delivered on any of the promise and I'm just not getting what all the hype is about. I know a lot of people out there are loving this movie and you just might enjoy it as well, but I really can't say it's something I would recommend. For me, it was 165 minutes (That's three full hours for those of you counting at home!) of watching a family go through their lives with nothing really interesting ever happening.


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