A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
My favorite English-language film of the year, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is simply one of the most significant achievements in cinematic history. I know that’s quite a statement to make about anything at all really, but I haven’t found one person who gets to the end of Boyhood and doesn’t feel that this is one of the most powerful experiences they’ve ever had in a cinematic setting. The filming in and of itself is a tale to behold. Boyhood was filmed over 45 days over the course of twelve years. Made with remarkable patience and care, it is frankly astounding that the film itself flows by with such seamless transitioning. And the running time of the film is never a hindrance. Even at two hours and forty-five minutes, the film never feels like a slog. The pacing isn’t the key as it sometimes meanders before immediately righting itself. The film flies by on primary account of how sheerly invigorating it is.
The strength of Boyhood stems from its incredible achievement of realism, how keenly it manages to capture the essence of the human experience through scripted dialogue that never feels like its scripted. There are some moments in the film when it almost feels like that you’re violating the privacy of this family, such is the intimacy of this experience that Linklater’s camera captures. Perhaps even more so than the simple feeling that you are watching a family organically grow, you become attached to their growth by virtue of being able to relate to their journeys. Many can watch the film and perhaps not relate to everything, but it would be difficult to find one human beat that doesn’t resonate to a similar experience in feeling, at least. In that regard, I find Boyhood to be quite reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, where you feel that you have grown with them. It’s obviously a singular film versus eight, but that time span of more than a decade with the same individuals is what makes it truly click.
The performances are astounding all around, each actor managing to keep on to the character over a time span where they’ve largely worked on numerous other projects. In hindsight, it’s a true achievement, keeping a character alive in your psyche for twelve years, a few days at a time. Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater, and Ellar Coltrane form the main cast and each and every single one of them is astounding, depicting more emotion in quiet scenes than perhaps any other ensemble this entire year in film. None of the characters feel like a simple archetype or a caricature. More often than not in film, there’s a certain fear about presenting the negatives of characters or actions of theirs that don’t always depict them in the best of light. In Boyhood, Linklater isn’t interested in depicting anyone as two-dimensional or even take their characters into an assumed direction. he’s interested in depicting the journey of a family over the course of twelve years in the most organic fashion possible and he manages to do so with absolute aplomb, good and bad in tow.
The performance undoubtedly are significantly boosted by the incredibly script by Linklater that gives each and every single one of its main cast significant material to work with. It’s astounding, the little things that he manages to capture per year so that the connections with the audience grow stronger with every scene (the austere attention to detail truly reminds me of Mad Men). “Hah! I remember that!” might be a constant refrain you hear and the film completely earns it, from political campaigns to Star Wars and a midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. That it all feels germane and not awkwardly tacked on is much to the film’s credit. Towards the end of Boyhood, when Mason goes off to college, there’s a certain mix of emotions on his mother’s face, perfectly encapsulated by Arquette. It’s a mixture of sadness, triumph, and pride at a milestone not many get to experience. Beautifully shot, written, and performed, Boyhood is an experience that stays with you and deserves to be had over and over and over again.
MPAA Rating: R
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Produced by: Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring. John Sloss
Written by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke
Cinematography: Lee Daniel, Shane Kelly
Editing: Sandra Adair
Production Company: Name
Distributor: IFC Films, Universal Pictures (UK)
Running Time: 165 minutes
Release Dates: January 19, 2014 (Sundance Film Festival), July 11, 2014 (United States)
Image Courtesy: Trespass Mag