Film Review – Boyhood (2014)

Boy - post

Title – Boyhood (2014)

Director – Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused)

Cast – Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

Plot – Filmed for real over a 12 year period, Boyhood follows the growing up of Mason (Coltrane) and his life with his sister Samantha (Linklater), struggling mother (Arquette) and his biological father (Hawke).

 “I just feel like there are so many things that I could be doing and probably want to be doing that I’m just not”

Review by Eddie on 14/11/2014

Boyhood is most certainly a unique and utterly ambitious piece of filmmaking by the ever interesting and increasingly good Richard Linklater, a movie 12 years in the making and an undertaking that so easily could’ve gone totally wrong. That Boyhood is the quality film it has ended up being is a testament to the skill Linklater possess behind the camera and the ability his actors in the form of Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke possess in front of camera but Boyhood isn’t immune to lacklustre filmmaking and as much as it succeeds as a tale of growing up that runs near 3 hours in length, it also fails to engage completely as an affecting whole.

Boyhood suffers at times from a lack of clear direction (perhaps this is the point I’m not entirely sure) and as our protagonist Ellar Coltrane as Mason grows up before our very eyes it becomes increasingly clear that as a character Mason is just not overly appealing and as an actor Coltrane fails to engage as the years draw on. Instead of developing into an actor, he regresses into a shell of a human and in doing so stops Boyhood from reaching outright classic status as a feature film and it’s a shame Linklater couldn’t of made Mason into a more appealing human being. There are real joys to be found early on in Boyhood and the intimate moments Linklater captures between Mason and his family are at times overwhelmingly affective and I’m sure that all who watch Boyhood will be able to relate to moments presented here, in that it will surely spike memories of our own childhood and that is where Boyhood comes into its own, despite Coltrane’s limitations as an anchoring actor.

With the uniqueness of its set up, Boyhood allows Linklater to create an ode to growing up in a way we’ve not really ever been privy to before in a movie made way. It’s at first a strange and off putting experience as a viewer, but before long you feel like nothing more than a fly on the wall to Mason’s journey of becoming an adult and the moments within his life that shape who he is to become. While Arquette’s struggling mother no doubt shapes Mason’s life the most, it is Hawke that becomes that standout character of Boyhood with his long time growing up father and his interactions with Mason both as a young child and later on as a teenager inspiring the most emotion in Boyhood’s un-driven narrative.

A lovingly crafted film with beautiful work in all facets by Linklater and a feature in a world of its own, it would be hard to not enjoy Boyhood but equally as hard to wholly love for many viewers as not everyone here or everything that happens is actually all that enjoyable and the story could’ve done with more engaging elements. A staggering achievement to keep on track for the years it took to film and a great ode to the transformation of our early life, Boyhood is a must see movie, just don’t expect to witness that downright classic many have unjustly labelled it to be.

4 alcoholic partners out of 5

35 responses to “Film Review – Boyhood (2014)

  1. I have to disagree in that I loved how we don’t have to have the perfect protagonist. This movie really felt like snap shots from the life of an ordinary boy and that’s part of why I found it extraordinary.

    • It had great moments mate and I really enjoyed it overall, I just found myself not that interested in Mason and for a movie nearing 3 hours I would’ve liked to have felt more affiliation with the main character. It is a great work of movie making skill though.

  2. Nice review, Eddie. I agree with you. Maybe this is the most ambitious movie made by Linklater, but, yeah it has no clear direction. It flows naturally (although it’s scripted) without climax and resolution. Yet, it convincingly pictures the transformation of a boy during a boyhood.

    • Yeh absolutely Paskalis. That is where it succeeded greatly, documenting a child becoming an adult and I commend them on that. Films without a clear direction can work – Linklater’s own Dazed and Confused testament to this but this one was let down slightly by its eventual bland central figure.

  3. I was really moved by it and I thought particularly Patricia Arquette’s performance was interesting. She dared to show the world how a woman ages and I liked that.
    The only segment that didn’t work for me was Mason and his high school girlfriend. That didn’t feel like a high school relationship to me, more like college. But yeah I loved it.

  4. Was really moved by this movie because it makes you think about your whole life and where you’re headed.

    It elicited emotions from me that no other film this year did. However, it really dragged in the last third. Some really boring scenes that didn’t add to much.

    And the ending is a bit limp. Just doesn’t have that “oomph” or punch that it should have to really stand out as a classic.

    • Agreed on the last third man and it did have a rare power to make you think back to your childhood and time at school ect. I was waiting for a big emotional crescendo but yeh never really got to that sadly.

  5. I liked the movie a lot, but I do think the adults were the real standouts. You are right about it being relatable–my niece and nephew are the same age as the two kids so it did get me thinking. I’ll be curious to see what kind of career Coltrane has after this.

    • I do wonder if he will be able to land more acting gigs? I think he showed potential as a child but I really didn’t see much as he grew up. I expect this will however be a large player at this years Oscars.

  6. I’m still waiting to see this one! Sometimes I think of hitting the play button but then I feel like I’m not ready for it. Hoping to get it done before new year arrives… Brilliant take as always, Ed.

  7. It’s an odd mixture of good Linklater (Before Sunrise) and tedious Linklater (Dazed and Confused). Mason and Olivia are Celine and Jesse without the money. Mason Jr. however, is “Pink Floyd from Dazed and Confused, a boring as fuck Gen X stoner/pseudo hippie.

      • I didn’t hate him. He just wasn’t realized as a character. So he became a Linklater archetype. You like Jesse from Before Sunrise because he’s trying to expand his horizons. Maybe Mason Jr. will eventually repeat the experience. But as of now, he’s just not very interesting. You can see why his girlfriend dumped him for a LaCrosse player.

  8. Thanks for the like. We apparently parked our cars in the same garage with this film. A metaphor for life and how it can peter out and become confusing at puberty still needs a strong third act, and I believe the best chance for success was in the supporting actors’ performances at that point. As if Linklater recognized Coltrane was not going to sell this ending on his own.

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  10. I watched boyhood around July and I did not know you made this review so maybe you changed your mind. But I think the reason you call Mason dull I called it real the next generation is a lot like Mason and I think the thing you missed is that you connected through his experiences he doesn’t have to be the most terrible human being. If you look at a conversation between Mason and his girlfriend he even says it’s hard to express his feelings that is showing us this what Mason grows up to be after all the experiences he went through out the film making the movie more impressive and more like real life. Mason is a also an easy character for young adults going to collage to relate to therefore giving the next greatest thing about Boyhood it’s transcendence the fact any generation can watch it and feel compelled to continue watching throughout their life time. Boyhood is ONE of a kind film that can never replicated because only Richard Linklater can make this type of film and that deserves more than what it got a 4 out of 5. This is a movie that invented a new way to shoot a film and a new style to do it.

    • Glad you enjoyed this one so much. I appreciate how you much you found it unique and in many ways it is, would’ve loved more from it narratively though which I do have issue with even if the point is to just document “life” not so much a story within someone’s life.

      I would suggest however that out the films nominated for Best Picture this year, Boyhood is not as memorable as say Whiplash and Birdman even though it’s filming pattern is so unique.

      • In my opinion it’s the opposite because I think we have seen themes like whiplash and Birdman have bend told before. I also think Birdman is a film that was told the best way it could have but even in the best way in stil came off as pretentious and a lot of the themes in the movie and it’s main point of interest has been told before in films like This is the end and Saving Mr.Banks. Is also thin that Birdman is a sophomoric effort a good effort but sophomoric. I believe that Birdman can and it will be retold in a better way. I think this a Greta first attempt for Birdman but in my opinion is just hat a first attempt in the future we will get another Birdman or whiplash because if they were truly unique and it’s best there would be ways that other directors can do for improvement because both styles and patterns are unique but re-creditable I think any director that put his mind to it can re direct those films. I think Boyhood is a story at its maximum it’s a telling of age story at this it’s masterpiece and perfection and it style was invented by the first man himself Linklater back for Slacker so technically speaking it’s not re doable because no directors has the same style as Bohood nobody ahs the creative style of Boyhood and nobody can not recreate a story about life in the way it was told again. This is it this why Boyhood it’s better beacuse there’s only one Boyhood and you will only see one Boyhood a film that invented a new way to shoot a film. We say Birdmans style and with Matthew Vaughn and continue to see that.

      • Cheers for sharing Movie, it’s always great to see how people were affected and how they react for certain movies, and I know many were deeply impressed and emotionally affected by Boyhood.

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