Boyhood - 10 stars out of 10
"Boyhood" is one of the boldest and most fascinating film undertakings in cinema history. Richard Linklater, the innovative director who conceptualized the "Before Sunrise" trilogy (whose characters and actors age nine years between each film) has used that idea to make a much bigger statement. I have always been blown away by the experience of watching his characters at three different stages of their lives and with "Boyhood," you have the opportunity to literally watch two children grow up on-screen. It is like looking through a photo album of these children’s lives from first grade through graduation. While watching these characters grow up, we also get to see the world progress around them. Everything from the music to the politics to the hair styles change with each new scene. This is the story of our culture – not the Hollywood stereotype, but the culture of our everyday lives. Beyond the conceptual genius of this film, the story is fascinating. The script was adapted throughout the years, sometimes even on the night before shooting, to harness the emotions that Ellar Coltrane was experiencing in his life. We don't always realize the impact of one small event on a child's life, but this story uses a mixture of significant and insignificant events as a window through which we see the child develop. The candid dialogue creates a documentary feel but more importantly shows the evolution of the characters’ personalities, priorities, and aspirations. The performances by Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Marco Perella are stunning, particularly Arquette’s emotional commentary on how quickly life passes by. It is interesting to see how the parents rotate from being the good parent to the bad parent and back again throughout the years. It really makes you consider how much selfishness and selflessness affect parenting. There are certainly moments where the acting of the kids falls short of expectation but, since we have never watched a child play one role for twelve years, it is natural to expect stronger and weaker movements throughout the film. It was actually pretty fun to see Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater’s acting chops mature throughout the movie. The movie is a bit of a marathon since there isn’t much action in this 165-minute, conversation-driven story. I wasn't terribly impressed with the first half hour, but then the full scope of the film started to set in. You can't help but continually say "Can you believe that this is the same kid from the beginning!?!?" This film is destined to take home some Oscars, particularly Best Original Screenplay. The sheer undertaking of this project and the final product are absolutely stunning. When Linklater and these actors began this 12-year project in May 2002, there is no way that they could have anticipated the true magic of watching these characters age. Some of the drug usage and strong language is unfortunate because I wish that this was a family-friendly film that everybody could experience; however, the ups and downs of “Boyhood” are what make it such a true telling of the formative years and I believe that it will forever remain a significant landmark in the history of film.
[Pictured: When this movie begins, you can’t imagine what this child will look like at age 18]