Boyhood received near-unanimous acclaim from film critics everywhere. It was the best reviewed film of 2014. I hesitate to lead with this, however, as impossibly high expectations can often cause disappointment. But… it was ground-breaking, great, and, most importantly, extremely entertaining.
Richard Linklater, along with director Wes Anderson, is a Texan, and shares with Anderson a varied filmography, from cult to comedy, drama to animation. Maybe it’s something in Texas barbeque that incites creativity. Linklater’s first major accomplishment was the cult favorite Slacker. This was a rambling dialogue-driven film that put him on the map, and popularized use of the word “slacker” to describe most of a generation of lazy and disaffected young folk. After Slacker, Linklater went on to give us the teen anthem Dazed and Confused, and right after that, continuing his prolific ‘90’s the first of his “Before” trilogy, Before Sunrise, and then and then and then. A little more obscure is his short, Live From Shiva’s Dance Floor that we have for rental at the store, in the same box as The Cruise. Check both of them out for interesting New York documentaries.
Okay, so Linklater in 2002 begins making Boyhood. There are probably numerous sources if you want to chronicle the making of the movie, but the basic scheme is that every year until 2014 he filmed his actors. What is unique is that he used the same actors every year and continued the storyline of their lives. I highly recommend watching the movie in its entirety straight through, to get the full effect of the experience.
His winning formula would not work if it weren’t for stellar performances. Newcomer (of course he was a newcomer – he was only six when filming began) Ellar Coltrane was outstanding as Mason, Jr., the main character. Now is a good time to note what natural and realistic performances all the child actors contributed to Boyhood. Child actors so frequently mar the movies they are in with wooden deliveries of their lines. This was definitely not the case with Boyhood. In addition to Ellar, Linklater’s daughter Lorelai Linklater had some great moments as Mason’s sister Samantha.
Ethan Hawke, a frequent presence in Linklater films, played Mason, Sr. Hawke’s filmography is impressive, but in this review, I want to particularly focus on Patricia Arquette, who played the mom. Arquette began making films in 1987, but in 1993 starred in one of my all-time favorite films: True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott. Arquette is matched with Christian Slater, definitely one of his best performances. Supporting actors Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper deliver one of the best exchanges in film history. (forgive the short digression) Since 1993, Arquette has been in plenty of movies and television shows, but has never won an award for her work in film. Until now. She has already won numerous awards for her work in Boyhood and is poised to also win the Golden Globe and Oscar.
I could talk about the photography, or I could (and absolutely should) talk about the soundtrack (a hefty sample of current musicians like Coldplay, Wilco, Arcade Fire, and Black Keys and old guys like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney). All aspects of the film created an accomplished whole that was a gift to the viewer. From the credits, it appeared that it was the same cast and crew for the entire movie—what an achievement.
The plot, some of you might ask: Mason Jr.’s life from age 6 years old to 18. You see him (and his family members) grow up before your very eyes. Unique and amazing. Bravo to all involved in the making of Boyhood. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 1/6/15