It’s unfortunate when an actor or filmmaker gets pigeonholed into one specific type of role or genre of film. Often times, though, when they break out of the usual we see a true talent shine. This isn’t to say Richard Linklater has in anyway been held back like this; I’m simply saying that if you were to judge him based on such films like School of Rock or the remake of Bad News Bears you might assume he’s another run of the mill filmmaker. But when you look at all of his work you will see highly acclaimed pieces of cinema that include the “Before” trilogy, considered to be some of the most authentic and romantic films in history. And of course there is Boyhood. With this film there is little doubt of Linklater’s masterful abilities not only as a filmmaker but simply as a storyteller. Such a simple premise in anyone else’s hands would have produced a forgettable family drama; through Linklater it is brought to life and made into something truly profound, unique and wholly beautiful.
One of the most fascinating aspects to the film is something that is showcased absolutely seamlessly in the finished product. In order to achieve absolute authenticity, the production time was spread out over a period of twelve years on purpose, which has never happened in the history of cinema and most likely will never happen again. Something that just can’t be fixed in movies is the transition that occurs when a particular character grows up; naturally a different actor, an older actor, must step in. It is the creators that rely on the audience’s willingness to accept this and move on accordingly. With Boyhood Linklater took this small issue out of the equation altogether. From the age of 5 to 18, Ellar Coltrane, the main boy in Boyhood, grows up on camera for the world to see. Along with an entire cast, he and they grow in all sorts of ways from height and age to maturity and clarity that only happens through trial and error. There is no real beginning, middle or end here; it’s simply this boy’s journey into adulthood and the minefield that must be treaded lightly to get there. To sum this story up; it is poignant and relatable.
For me, the most amazing part of this film is the magic it gives to such ordinary situations. Many of the moments in this I too have experienced in my own life and at the time they seemed conventional or even down right dull. Going camping with the family, going to a game, or simply talking about girls with my dad were things that just happened, but here it’s all put into a perspective that makes me realize how truly special these “mundane” moments really were and continue to be. In a way, this gave me something back I hadn’t realized I had lost; an appreciation for those seemingly unimportant interactions. It speaks of those that enter our lives and without warning disappear from it and the confusion this can cause. It shows the naivety of teenagers and the lessons they must learn to grow into a functional human adult and to shed that selfishness that is inherent in most youth. It reminded me of past conversations with friends and how incredibly stupid these times were; man I was a dumb kid. What’s beautiful about this though is despite the light it shined on my stupid behavior as a kid it also acknowledges how important these things were to me at the time. It never belittles the silly moments or the moments that might only seem important to those that are experiencing them directly; it allows them to happen and assumes someone out there is watching and relating and remembering. I definitely remembered.
This is slow, there is no climax here. There is not a major occurrence that alters the face of reality creating some heightened situation that requires a hero to save the day. It’s simple and creative and unprecedented. To put all your hopes on the idea that everyone in the cast will return every year to continue filming is insane. What if the children, now adults, come to realize they aren’t talented actors? What if someone died? Twelve years is a long time for a lot of things to go wrong. Thankfully no one died and the production finished with an all-around talented cast that includes Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as well as a few newcomers with bright futures in the movie business. If you have seen this and love it as I do then you know how amazing this movie is in every way. If you have a chance to see Boyhood, please do. Something this special doesn’t come along often so take advantage while you can.
Rated R For: language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Run Time: 165 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 4.5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls