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Movie Suggestion XXVI: Boyhood

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Movie Suggestion XXVI: Boyhood

 

Country: United States – 2014

 

Genre: Drama

 

Directed by: Richard Linklater

 

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke.

 

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Synopsis: “Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.” (IFC Films)

 

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“One thing becomes clear upon watching Boyhood: director Richard Linklater is fascinated by the concept of following a fictional character through real time. Most filmmakers lack the patience to attempt something like this. In spirit, if not in the particulars, Boyhood recalls Linklater’s Before trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight. Those movies follow two lovers over an 18-year span, catching up with them at nine year intervals across three films. Real time passage equals screen time passage. Boyhood does something comparable, tracking characters across a dozen years, visiting them once a year, but putting everything together into a single film rather than spreading the moments across multiple installments. Still, the basic concept is similar: allowing the aging of the actors to inform and enhance their portrayals of the characters.

 

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If that was all Boyhood had to offer, it could be seen as a gimmick. Fortunately, this is also an exceptionally well-crafted coming-of-age story. The experience of watching an actor grow up on screen is so fundamentally different from what we’re used to that it shifts how we watch the movie. To be sure, we’re used to films in which characters age but this is typically accomplished by using computer imagery or employing the services of different performers. The way in which Linklater has accomplished this is radical enough to be noticed. (It’s also not a trend likely to be widely adopted; it took 12 years to make Boyhood. In an era of immediate gratification, few studios are going to be willing to wait that long.)

 

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There’s a documentary aspect to the production. Not only do we watch lead actor Ellar Coltrane mature from age six until young adulthood but we’re accorded the same privilege with Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei. (According to the director, Lorelei demanded the part, lost interest after a few years, then became bullish again.) We’re accorded the opportunity to see familiar faces Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke change over an equal period, although the effect isn’t as dramatic because both actors remained in the public spotlight throughout the period when they were making Boyhood.” (reelviews.net)

 

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“Linklater has crafted what may be the most ingenious film of the century here and given it a tone like no other by shooting the movie in bits and pieces over 12 years, following 6-year-old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows to be 18.

 

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It’s Mason’s life, but it’s also very much the life of a nomadic, broken family, especially through the film’s first half, where Arquette — who shines throughout — plays a desperate mother who decides to go back to school so she can eventually earn a decent living. There she meets and marries a professor (the chillingly real Marco Perella) with two kids of his own.

 

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Their initial bliss turns ugly as alcohol takes over the professor’s life, and soon the family is unstable again. It’s a pattern that runs through the life of Mason’s mom, and thus it runs through his.” (detroitnews.com)

 

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“Boyhood understands the tumult of puberty and adolescence as well as it does the hurdles and satisfaction of raising children. The miracle Linklater pulls off is that the picture (which runs almost three hours) will fascinate viewers of all ages, whether it’s reminding you of your parents or evoking what it’s like to nurture a family. The movie is filled with seemingly inconsequential moments that make you smile in recognition, such as Mason’s quiet tantrum when his father tells him he’s not giving him his GTO, or a scene in which Mason and some friends find a sawblade and start throwing it around (boys play such potentially dangerous games, it’s a wonder so many of them grow up to become men).

 

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The movie isn’t all warm hugs and nostalgia. Linklater reminds you that growing up has plenty of unpleasant hardships, too. But he avoids all the expected cliches — Mason’s first crush, his first kiss, the loss of his virginity — in favor of dinners and outings and the sort of simple moments that mysteriously stick with you, for no apparent reason other than the way you felt at the time. When a mopey Mason asks his father what life is all about, his dad replies “We’re all just winging it. The good news is you’re feeling stuff, you know? And you’ve got to hold on to that. You get older, and you don’t feel as much, your skin gets tough.” This remarkable, wonderful movie helps you remember.” (miami.com)

 

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October 6, 2014

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