Boyhood, Richard Linklater 2014
By Ali Tenenbaum
The word “masterpiece” is overused. Richard Linklater gives us an extraordinarily thoughtful and touching film, but it ain't perfect. The “filmed-over-many-years” concept is interesting but not totally novel, the “Up” documentary series by Michael Apted is the most obvious comparison. In Boyhood, we watch a boy grow from age 6 to 18, same actor, shot over a few days, once per year. What struck me the most was not just watching him change over 12 years, but seeing the family dynamics continually realign and evolve as time passes. The parents, Ethan Hawke (always genuine and beguiling) and Patricia Arquette (a revelation here), carry their children through the years, and carry this movie for almost 3 hours.The movie has flaws; the biggest is that the boy, particularly in his teenage years, is not a terribly compelling actor. Fortunately, and a bit surprisingly, what emerges is the undeniable truth that (in moviemaking and in life) it’s the flaws that can sometimes be the most beautiful, mesmerizing and enlightening parts.
People react strongly to this film because they view it through the lens of their own experience. Everyone can relate to time passing, aging, watching children grow, marriages coming and going, and life passing you by…maybe it should have been called Peoplehood. It would be interesting to me to see into the director’s mind with respect to the challenges of the format. For example, what to do when the star of your 12-year shoot can’t act?!?
I talk a lot about why the movie isn’t perfect but it’s a beautiful film. Grandma should see it, kids should see it (not sure why it has an R rating). Just go.
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