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Boyhood (2014)

2014 September 16
by profwagstaff


Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater

It took me so long to finally see this movie after my first chance (sort of) being back in March that I almost feel like I don’t need to review it anymore. But I will because I loved it so much.

First, though, some trailers.

ST VINCENT—No, this is not a documentary about Annie Clark. It’s a film about an old curmudgeon named Vincent (Bill Murray) who befriends a young boy (Jaeden Lieberher) and teaches him about life, fighting and whiskey. The boy’s mom (Melissa McCarthy) is concerned, but seems to like the man. And the priest at the boy’s school (Chris O’Dowd from The IT Crowd!) is maybe about the same. Naomi Watts is a stripper that Vincent befriends. Either way, I’m seeing this movie. I love everyone in it and it looks hilarious and touching without being cloying. I’m there.

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH—This is a documentary (sort of) about Nick Cave’s 20,000th day on Earth. It’s fiction…but it’s also documentary. But it looks like he’s a cab driver sometimes. But he’s on stage performing. I don’t fuckin’ know. I just know that this looks like a great movie. It’s needs my attention.

BIRDMAN—Already reviewed this one, but just wanted to point out that, in the Drafthouse Films Presents trailer, Tim League is standing in front of the Werner Herzog Theatre in Telluride. Love.

Ok, now on to a movie that was 12 years in the making…probably more.

Boyhood is about growing up. Not just kids growing up, but parents growing up, too. Because nothing makes an adult become an adult faster than having a kid…at least you hope. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is growing up right before our eyes. He starts out as a little boy in grade school and slowly transforms into a 17 year old high school graduate. His divorced parents, Emily and Mason, Sr (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) have a strained relationship, but they sort of try to keep it friendly for the kids. Mason’s older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), is your typical older sister: abusive, but protective.

Mason and his family go through 12 years of experiences as everyone gets older right before our eyes. They make friends. They lose friends. They fall in love. They fall out of love. They have major breakthroughs…but there is no BIG MOMENT. Boyhood is a series of small moments. The ones that you remember when your mind drifts back to you childhood. Sitting in your room, listening to your parents fight. Being offered a beer by an older kid. Noticing a girl for the first time. Being told by your teacher that you’re a smart kid if you would just apply yourself. Yes, we all remember the BIG MOMENTS. But those are in every coming of age movie ever made.

Richard Linklater has made a career off of celebrating the small moments. There’s no real plot to his most popular movie, Dazed And Confused. It’s just about the last day of school in 1976. Kids run from school to home to parties to a bar to a car. They talk, the walk, they make out, they drink, they smoke. Nothing really happens. And it’s great.

Boyhood takes that to the extreme and is amazing for it. The characters are real. We all knew or know a kid like Mason. We’ve all known dads like Mason, Sr. By the end of the movie, we’re a part of this fucked up little family. We’ve seen them at their best and their worst. We’ve loved them and we’ve hated them.

Mason is a little bit of a blank slate, the older he gets, but if you’ve ever known a teenager, that’s how they are. Especially around adults. I went to this movie with a teenager and I bet he identified with Mason more than I ever could. I definitely saw a lot of my movie buddy in Mason. You can pull the real kid out sometimes, but a lot of the time there’s a wall up. It takes age to take that wall down.

This movie reminded me a lot of another movie that some people hated, Elephant. Now, THAT is a movie where nothing happens until the very end. You just follow these kids around all day long until two of them start shooting. You don’t get a sense of any personalities except for one kid. I identified with that so much because that’s how high school is. And that’s a lot of what childhood is. YOU know who you are. At least, you think you do. But you just know that no one else really gets you. No one else understands. So why bother getting to know them?

I loved Boyhood. I think it’s quite possibly the best movie I’ve seen all year. Even at 2 1/2 hours, it never wore out its welcome and I kept wondering where Mason and his family would go next. And, most important of all, I saw a little of myself in Mason. Linklater took 12 years to make this film and it was worth every second.

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