Bottom Line: Finally caught up with a movie I’ve been avoiding most of the year – due largely in part to its central ‘gimmick’ of filming a narrative regarding a young boy (over 12 actual years) as he navigates the emotionally treacherous waters of growing up, divorced parents, a single mother, abusive stepfather, starting new schools, etc… I have three boys at home and I watch them grow older every day and it breaks my heart, I didn’t need to see how it all plays out on the big screen. The hype surrounding this film continues to hum along at a deafening roar with many saying it’s a frontrunner for a Best Picture Oscar. This artistic beast is a critical darling. Have to say though – aside from sporadically welcomed appearances of energy and urgency from Ethan Hawke – I was fairly unimpressed. Having lived many of the central conceits, I found Boyhood to be an emotionally distant exercise in staying engaged. I get the high-art factor here, the slice-of-life/coming-of-age story randomly unfolding over time… But that’s how real life works, some may say. A movie about life, however, should have a little life to it. This does not – it just…kind of…moves through a series of uninteresting (for the most part) and unmemorable moments. An adolescent mumbles, a teenager mopes and a mom makes a series of frustrating decisions. Okay great – I’m gonna Google ‘how to build a time machine’ so I can get those 165 minutes back. It’s also worth noting that Patricia Arquette (as the mom; a large part of this film) is said to be leading the pack in the Best Supporting Actress category – her acting chops here are so freshman stage play-like it makes me question the very sanity of 90% of my peers. Seriously, she’s jarringly bad in this… Crazy thing is you need not look any further than Linklater’s own masterful Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) to find brilliant commentary on relationships and the human condition – you know, slice-of-life stuff. Obscure, unfocused and virtually substance-free, Boyhood is not a film I’ll revisit nor one I’d recommend.
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke
Directed by: Richard Linklater (BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, SCHOOL OF ROCK and DAZED & CONFUSED)
Running time: 2 hrs. 45 min.
Studio description: Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family
Official site: www.ifcfilms.com/films/boyhood