Posted by

Allen Adams Allen Adams
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer


The brilliance of Boyhood'

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Linklater's latest a beautiful, ambitious offering

Ambition can be a double-edged sword when it comes to filmmaking. Too often, a writer/director will try to fly too high too fast, making like Icarus and suffering the consequences of approaching the sun too closely. But when that ambition is well realized, the result is something powerful, magical and unforgettable.

The result is Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood.'

This is a film that was 12 years in the making, a sprawling masterpiece of epic intimacy. Utilizing the same cast over the course of those dozen years, Linklater brought to the screen one young man's journey from the child he was to the precipice of adulthood. It manages to feel magnificent in scope, yet focuses on telling the tale of one boy and his family.

Simply put, we get to bear witness as Mason (Ellar Coltrane, 'Fast Food Nation') grows up, from age 5 all the way to his first day of college at 18. Along the way, we also get to see as his mother (Patricia Arquette, 'Vijay and I'), father (Ethan Hawke, 'Getaway') and older sister (Lorelai Linklater in her feature debut) embark on their own journeys. We watch as the choices Mason and his family make have impacts both positive and negative on their lives.

And through it all, we watch the cast as they age throughout the first decade of the 21st century, dealing with cultural touchstones and living life in Texas.

Any attempt at synopsizing this film will serve only to lessen its impact and import. While the narrative is undeniably engaging, it does little to illustrate just how powerful a viewing experience this is. While you might think you understand the sheer emotional weight inherent to seeing a cast of actors age onscreen, until you see it for yourself, you just don't. You might believe the whole thing to be a bit of gimmickry and nothing more. If so, you would be wrong.

It's a coming-of-age story where you literally get to see the protagonist grow up. It isn't multiple actors or makeup or digital effects. It's the passage of time, pure and simple. You watch Ellar Coltrane and Lorelai Linklater grow up. You see Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke change over the course of a decade-plus. There's no way to accurately articulate just how incredible that is to watch.

Linklater's no stranger to ambitious undertakings, but the sheer magnitude of this project is difficult to wrap one's head around. For 12 summers, Linklater and crew would take a few weeks and shoot. When he started, he had no idea how things might progress. He couldn't know in what directions life would take his leads. He couldn't know what changes were in store for society at large. 'Boyhood' had to constantly shift and evolve and adapt in order to continue moving forward. To finish a project like this while still in possession of one's sanity is an impressive enough feat. To finish it and wind up with a brilliant film? Unbelievable.

The cast is phenomenal. Arquette and Hawke are fantastic as Mason's parents. Their separation while certainly a sore spot, especially early in the film never feels like an obstacle. Their interactions with their kids inform their interactions with each other. Arquette captures a certain sadness in her portrayal, and there's a good chance Hawke has never been better. Linklater whose casting was a bit of nepotistic inspiration is very good as Samantha, Mason's sister. While the film is called 'Boyhood,' we see almost as much of her growth as she eases into adulthood.

But of course, Coltrane is the star. So much of the film's hope for success rests on his shoulders; without a real breakthrough performance from him, 'Boyhood' is reduced to little more than an experiment, a stunt. But he does breakthrough. We live through the trials and tribulations of youth by way of his eyes. We share his struggles with schools and siblings and girlfriends; we're there as he wrestles with big questions and those questions that only seem big at the time. We experience his happiness and his heartbreak.

We are there.

'Boyhood' is almost three hours long, but you'd never know it. It's a depiction of life that feels both macro and micro simultaneously. Richard Linklater and company have given us a gift that is exceedingly rare these days the chance to see something we've never really seen before. As an added bonus, the film transcends mere novelty and offers something even more precious.


[5 out of 5]


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine