Saturday, February 21, 2015

BOYHOOD movie review

I have no witty tease for this movie. All the good ones have been repeated a lot throughout this awards season.

Boyhood is a film that Richard Linklater shot for over the past 12 years. It follows Mason, a 6 year old boy, through his suburban childhood years to his adventurous adolescence to him choosing a path for his adulthood. 

Linklater had such a unique and innovative idea for this film, and I feel that it was executed with flying colors. It's one of the reasons I love film so much. The way creative minds such as Linklater approach different stories and telling them in a fresh and ambitious way.

For this film, Linklater decided to capture life (or more specifically, childhood). He succeeded. The film shows life like no other film, because it really is life. The film plays out like a string of memories that are minor or of little significance yet, at the same time, very meaningful.  It's like looking back at your own life, and focusing on the small memories that happen to also be life-defining moments. 

One could even have a valid argument that this film is more about the family than it is just the boy. Patricia Arquette steals the show with her performance as this caring mother, who has made a few poor choices along the way. Arquette gives a powerful performance as this wonderful character. You get a scene at the start of the movie that really locks you in to her character and she has a really emotionally heavy scene at towards the end of the film. Ethan Hawke gave a great performance as Mason's father, and I really liked his character. His journey seemingly runs parallel with Mason's, with both providing support for each other. I commend Ellar Coltrane and Lorelai Linklater for their improvement as actors. They essentially play their age range, and, for the most part, they're good. I appreciate the effort, and I acknowledge their growth as actors.

I actually saw one of Linklater's earlier films, Dazed and Confused, before Boyhood last year, and I have got to say he is a master of his craft. I embraced the non-formulaic narrative and the abundance in philosophical talk, and I feel like it really worked for a film like this. It's certainly not a conventional film. 

There is no "character arc" for Mason to go through, and there doesn't have to be. That's not within the film's goals. The film just shows him going through life, just like all of us do in real life, because real life doesn't have character arcs.

There isn't a plot line either. It's all a bunch of seemingly random occurrences and life milestones. Same as character arcs, this film didn't need to have a plot line. Linklater's goal was to showcase life (in his words, "life as a series of milestones"), so of course, it's not going to follow the same film structure. I understand that may turn some people off, and I more than understand why some people found it dragging, but it just added more reasons to why I love it and find it so beautiful.

Richard Linklater was surely ambitious with Boyhood. He made a beautiful and emotional film about life and growing up without divulging into coming of age genre tropes. His achievement here is amazing. It will hopefully go down as one of the greats, and if not, then it will with me, because it's a time gem.

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