Boyhood Review

By: Vivien Pong

Boyhood was filmed over the span of 12 years, same cast, same crew. Director and screenwriter Richard Linklater started the project in 2002, and continuously filmed and wrote the script over the span of 12 years. Boyhood is definitely the most unique film conceptually I have seen so far this year. However, at a certain point in the film, around the 2 hour mark of its’ nearly 3 hour running time, Boyhood seems to plateau, and then trail off into a ending.

     The film opens in 2002, with our main character, Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) starting out at the tender age of six. Mason lives with his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and their long suffering single mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) in Texas. Her ex-husband and the father of Mason and Samantha, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) appears periodically to take the kids out to various “bonding” activities. Boyhood is difficult to summarize without giving away many important plot points, mainly because watching the film feels like one is watching a very well filmed home video. This is exactly the feel Linklater seemed to be going for, capturing the candid moments between the actors. The transitions between each of the years are flawlessly edited, it is not done with harsh cuts and graphics that read “One year later”, but rather the whole film feels very gradual and natural.

     The acting is, for lack of a better word, nice. It is not especially fantastic, or compelling, but it is believable and natural. Around the time Mason Jr. goes off to college, in the film it is 2012, all the characters seem to sort of run out of steam. It is understood that this is a pivotal moment in Mason Jr.’s life, as well as for his sister and mother. However, everyone seems tired and burnt out, almost as if they are anticipating that the film is coming to a close soon. The ending itself was not as joyous and free as it could have been, ending with the line “It’s always right now”, a line that should evoke feelings of hope and excitement for the future and what lies ahead. Instead, it feels a little dull.

Boyhood has it’s weak points, but it is definitely worth seeing. The concept alone is interesting enough to garner attention and Linklater did an admirable job directing such a large and complicated project. Boyhood could have been a cheesy coming-of-age story with an uplifting soundtrack and lots of cute little moments. Instead, it paints a very realistic portrait of what life is really like, teenage acne and all. Unintended comic relief comes in the form of a healthy dose of nostalgia via the many dated video game consoles, toys (remember Tamagotchi pets?), and television shows. Boyhood is a well directed view of, well, boyhood, and all the experiences that come along with it.

Verdict

Decent

Boyhood is worth seeing just for the concept alone as well as the flawless merging of 12 years of filming.

Picture


Positives

  • Flawless transitions
  • Well directed
  • Great cinematography

Negatives

  • Lack of character development towards the end
  • Film plateaus after awhile
  • Extremely long runtime