Boyhood (2014)

9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Bold and brave attempt at cinema, watching a kid grow on camera in a span of two hours

Plot is intentionally mundane and that could be a struggle for some

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Boyhood

Studio:  IFC Films

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 19, 2014 (Sundance)/July 11, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


Growing up is hard to do

Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is six years old in 2002.  His mother (Patricia Arquette) is divorced from his father (Ethan Hawke) who is just returned from working in Alaska.  Growing up in Texas, Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) find their lives changing year to year.  With marriage forming and dissolving with his parents, Mason is trying to find his own way in the world and does it all while growing up.

Produced, written, and directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood is an experimental drama produced over twelve years.  The movie received universal praise and multiple awards for the cast and director.  Boyhood won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette) with nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #839).


But I’m the “cool” dad!

Boyhood is an ambitious project with a lot of scary loose ends.  Will the cast hold together, will child actors be able to carry the film for over a decade, and will it end up being a colossal waste of time if it doesn’t work…these are all questions that Linklater had to face and he succeeded in creating a really unique piece of cinema.

The story for Boyhood might leave some lacking, but it is because of the “story” that the movie really works.  Movies are generally built on events and big dramatic moments.  Boyhood has its share of moments, but they are real life moments for the most part.  If you don’t know anything about the movie, you might keep expecting tragedy or romance to happen, but like life, it just goes on, and people endure.


Time to graduate to adulthood!

Linklater had the basic framework for the story but tweaked the actual year to year filming to adjust to the lives of the characters from the previous years.  Linklater has often experimented with film and this does remind me a bit of his “Before” pictures (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight) which has followed the lives of a couple (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke…who also stars here).  Both films just dip in and out of the characters lives with most of the more classic drama aspects (aka births, marriages, etc.) happening between visits.  It is different and unique and makes both Boyhood and the Before movies worth checking out.

I have to be honest I’m not an Ethan Hawke fan and I’m not that big of a Patricia Arquette fan, but both actors really excel here.  Hawke plays the “fun dad” who eventually matures and Arquette plays the responsible mom who makes really bad life choices.  Both actors make the parents likable and neither one really seems like “the bad guy” throughout the movie.  Linklater cast his daughter as Samantha and I actually think it is rather interesting to see her character’s path (and the subtle way that she matures before her brother).  She isn’t always the best actor, but I find her character interesting as almost the side character.  The rest of the movie is made up of great character actors and moments with them that enhances the basic ideas of getting older and the changes and challenges.


You can’t seize the moment, the moment seizes us…

Much of the movie hinges on the performance of Ellar Coltrane.  It had to be tough for him to grow up on camera (and an odd experience to watch his life unfold in just over two and a half hours).  Other interesting aspects is that sometimes he is a better actor and sometimes he is more challenged.  This is a benefit of having a story that is more real life in that he doesn’t have to bring up emotions that he hasn’t necessarily experienced…and it works.

I really admire Boyhood.  It is a scary feat to dedicate so much time to a film like this.  The movie’s plot might not shock or have a continuing rounded plotline like the standard drama, but it is very real.  If nothing else, you can admire Boyhood for its ambition…and I wouldn’t mind seeing another glimpse to Mason’s life in twelve more years.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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