Boyhood (15)

Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane

You must know the setup - filmed over a 12 year period featuring the actual growing up of a boy from ages 7-19 this is undoubtedly a pretty amazing feat by director Richard Linklater and his cast, showing a rela commitment to their craft. However, at almost 3 hours with very little in the way of excitement, I do think the film has been rather over-praised.
Early on, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family read Harry Potter and go to a midnight book launch for the Half Blood Prince. In many ways, watching Daniel Radcliffe and co. grow up on screen is the closest analogy to this film. Of course, you could also just look around you at friends and family too!
It isn't just young Mason who grows up. Patricia Arquette deservedly won the Oscar for best supporting actress, and indeed, the changes she goes through are in many ways more interesting than the well worn teenage boy cliches Linklater struggles to avoid. This is especially the case in the final scenes as Mason leaves to go to college and his mother is left along for the first time. Arquette's performance is wonderful throughout. Ethan Hawkes' Mason Sr. develops less as a character - and Hawkes seems to age least of the cast! Linklater's daughter Lorelei is slightly erratic as Mason's sister - sometimes great, sometimes less convincing as an actor.
There are some genuinely touching moments and definitely a feeling of peeping into a real family, complete with the more mundane times. The film is a one off, a novelty project but a real labour of love by all concerned. As a viewer however, it drags a bit and lacks a proper narrative. This is a movie to be admired and while it didn't bowl me over the way it has so many critics, it was a film that stayed with me and I carried on thinking about for several days afterwards. 8/10

July 2014

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