Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood (2014) movie poster

director Richard Linklater
viewed: 01/10/2014

Richard Linklater’s interesting career has hit a new acme here with his 12-year-spanning project, Boyhood.  Topping a multitude of critics “best of 2014” lists, last night it garnered a Golden Globe for Best Drama, Director, and even Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette, and it’s looking pretty good for the Oscars, too.

It’s a remarkable film.  Focusing on the development of a boy, beginning at age 7 and ending around 18, Linklater made the film with a cast in a process that literally took 12 years, watching as Ellar Coltrane (Mason, Jr. in the film) grows up from young boyhood, tweens and teens into early adulthood.  As well as his sister, Samantha (played by Linklater’s daughter Lorelei).  And while the other actors, namely Arquette and Ethan Hawke, also age, though less dramatically.

Episodic in nature, shot in vignettes over the years, the film is a culmination of small scenes as time passes through the lives of the family.  Marriages blossom and die, children are born, lives evolve.  No major things happen on screen, except the dramatic development of children compressed into 2 1/2 hours.

As a parent of a 13 year old and a soon to be 11 year old, it’s very effecting.  My kids are developmentally only halfway through the movie, but to watch as these other children develop, the inevitability of change, evokes something very touching indeed, something complex and varied.

Linklater has essentially dabbled in this arena in a sense before, in his trilogy (so far) of films Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013), revisiting a relationship between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy over a span of 18 years, though done 9 years apart and certainly not planned that way back in 1995.  It also brings to mind the Up Series of films, though those were done as documentaries, following multiple children much further into adulthood.

Linklater is an unusual director, making films in the true America “Indie” vein like this one, his Before films, or Slacker (1991) or Waking Life (2001), while also making some real middle of the road American films like School of Rock (2003), the Bad News Bears remake (2005), and Bernie (2011).  He does generally base most of his films in his home state of Texas, and in the long run has developed a truly unique corpus of work.  I like his films, some more than others, so I’m glad for him.

I actually thought that the best performance in the film was by Linklater’s daughter Lorelei.  While the film focuses on the boy, she also develops before our eyes, from snarky and annoying older sister into a clever and interesting young woman.

Again, it’s a remarkable film, a very interesting document and achievement.

And by the way, did you notice Charlie Sexton in the film?

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