Review by: Christopher Haskell
July 20, 2014
Never has a director been more ambitious than Richard Linklater, whose latest feature “Boyhood” spans over twelve years, both in production and time within the narrative. Using the same actors throughout the course of the film, the audience literally gets to see the characters grow up in front of their eyes. Actor Ellar Coltrane started this film when he was six years old, alongside Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei, who was seven. By the time the credits roll, Coltrane is an eighteen-year-old with facial hair and the stature of a young man, and Lorelei is nineteen, looking nothing like she did as a little girl. Not only is the ever-changing appearance of the children an experience in and of itself, but the life events that occur for these characters are so true-to-life that it actually feels like the biggest budgeted home video ever produced. Touching on what life means to each of the characters as they grow up, dealing with all the hardships and life changing moments throughout their life, Linklater provides an in-depth look at an authentic family evolution.
Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette also make the twelve year journey as Mason (Coltrane) and Samantha’s (Lorelei) divorced father and mother, Mason Sr. and Olivia. Since the children live with Olivia, the audience is exposed more to her life decisions from one bad husband to another. Like any purely dramatic film, the narrative has its peaks and valleys and with a run-time of almost three hours there are plenty of both. Linklater holds attention, however, by keeping the audience guessing when the next jump in time will take place, not using any lower thirds to inform of the years passing by. Instead, you notice a different haircut or a growth spurt that mark the miles. Also, the evolution of the soundtrack is a nice nostalgia trip, beginning the film with tracks like “Yellow” by Coldplay and “Anthem” by Blink 182, and eventually ending with songs like “Trojans” by Atlas Genius and “Hero” by Family Of The Year, which was the main song used in the marketing for the film.
Not only does Richard Linklater continue to push the bar when it comes to independent dramas, but he continues to develop his distinct style of conversation, with many long take scenes slipping by without notice, something that he has become known for, especially coming out of his “Before” trilogy, which are comprised mostly of long take conversations between the characters. Exposition is never needed in a Linklater film because we get to know the characters so well through their conversations with one another. And if there is one thing you feel at the end of this twelve year adventure, it is the feeling that you have gotten to know these characters. I mean, hell, you have literally grown up with them. Richard Linklater is a visionary director, plain and simple. “Boyhood” feels like a once in a lifetime cinematic event, a feat that can definitely be copied but that can never be surpassed.
July 18, 2014
(for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use)