An achievement. Taking a radically different approach to filmmaking, this focuses on a young boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), and shows how he grows up and matures through the years, from elementary school to college. The thing that is the most impressionable about this is the unconventional craft to it; Richard Linklater has been making great movies for decades, but with Boyhood, he has made what is easily his most ambitious film to date. Short of the Harry Potter series (to which the film even gives a nod to), I don’t think anybody has ever attempted anything like this before, and even then, all eight Harry Potter movies took less cumulative time to make than the twelve years that Boyhood took. There were no guarantees that this giant gamble was going to work out in the end. For example, this is an intimate family drama, it’s not like you can just replace an actor should they become incapacitated or worse. Obviously, it was a bet that paid off in spades, and Boyhood is something special.
To give some perspective, Linklater made 10 movies WHILE he was making this one. If that’s not work ethic, I don’t know what is.
The thing that is the most remarkable about Boyhood is the scope of it all; you have to have vision in order to make everything come together on a project this expansive, and what’s even more impressive is that everything about this rings personal and authentic. While you may not know these people per se, you have people in your life that fit into these molds, which makes it very easy to relate to. Not only do you get to see everybody here grow up, you also get to see how much has changed since 2002, like how big the cell phone boom was, as well as staples from the past, like a Nintendo DS before it was a 3DS.
Like Macs before they were cool.
This could have just as easily been called Parenthood, and this is one of the most genuine looks at divorced life. It’s always shown through the eyes of a child, and it is intriguing to watch how adults justify all of the little things to kids. It’s also really cool how you see perspectives change, like how parents are viewed almost solely as authority figures at a young age, but then, as children grow up and become real people, they look at and talk to their parents more maturely, like friends; Mason becomes increasingly more upfront with them as he grows older, and you are always interested in what comes next. You also get to see these children grow as actors in one film, which is something you seldom ever get to witness. What I think Boyhood is being sold short on is how good the script is; you wouldn’t care as much if it was an uninteresting story, but you really get to know this entire family and grow with them. My only minor criticism is that you do feel the length to this movie, but it is a small nitpick when you consider just how much time this is covering, and it still moves fast. This is a really nifty experiment that you’re not likely to see repeated ever again.
Boyhood (2014) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.