Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Boyhood (2014) - Her review

With one of the most effective gimmicks in years, Richard Linklater's Boyhood is shot over 12 years with the same cast. You see the characters melt into their older selves, and the sense of time passing is seamless, only guessing that time has passed when haircuts change. Boyhood can be seen as a microcosm for taste over the past decade, as Coldplay leads to Soulja Boy and ends with Arcade Fire, as well as the various tastes in clothes and interiors. Historians will love this film.

Time seems to move at two speeds with this film. In relation to the story, time goes too fast. Shot at roughly 15 minute segments for each year, we see Mason (Ellar Coltrane) move with his mother (Patricia Arquette) and sister (Lorelei Linklater) from one husband to another. One husband starts off nice, and subsequently becomes an abusive drunk, and then him and his poor children are dropped. Husband number two starts off even nicer, which makes his inexplicable turn from loving to hateful all the more flummoxing. While it would be impossible to follow up everything that is done in this film, many story lines are dropped suddenly. I presume that we are to believe that these are just bad memories, random moments - at one point, the dad (Ethan Hawke) berates his kids for remembering all the arguments, but not all the happy occasions they shared.

The other speed this film moves at, in relation to the audience watching it, is slow. Clocking in at an epic 165 minutes, this films thoughtfulness and attention to small details makes it feel very slow. The first two hours he ages quite quickly, but the last hour the pace slows right down. The predictable change of events also makes you feel like you've seen this before. He goes from being bullied, to having his first proper girlfriend, who subsequently dumps him for the jock. He moves to college, where he finds the good-looking friends who can tolerate his existentialism, and who encourage it.

Also, I can't forgive a kid who's studying photography and then doesn't take his camera when they go hiking at Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Watching Boyhood, we realise that our lives, to some degree, are all the same. Our childhood's are at the mercy of grown-ups who we trust to be in control, and then we are disappointed when we learn that they are not. Truncating the life of Mason we see that we all have moments that could be cinema worthy. The transition form child to adult is a worthy subject, and I imagine many parents will find sections of this film quite touching.

Despite this films unique take on coming-of-age, the length is too indulgent for me and it couldn't hold my attention. Flipping from one moment to another left you frustrated at story lines left unresolved (what happened to the children of the abusive husband?). Unfortunately, Mason was the least interesting character also. I was far more concerned about the outcome of his masochistic mother. But what would be the other option? Make a film that lasts 12 years?



Read Richee's review of Boyhood here.

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