Okay, you’ve heard all the other critics going crazy over this film. People have called this “a once in a lifetime movie” and “a masterpiece that isn’t quite like anything else in the history of cinema.” Don’t get me wrong, I think the film is very good, but I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s just a little bit overrated.
Let me just start off by saying that we came into the theater pretty late, and missed the first few minutes of the film. So if something really amazing happened in the first few minutes, I apologize. I didn’t see it. So, the film follows Ellar Coltrane as Mason from age 5 to 18, as I’m sure the advertising has made you aware. However, the film isn’t as ‘happy’ as the trailer might make you believe.
The film is split into two halves. The first half of the film is essentially Mason as a young boy dealing with complicated family dilemmas that he doesn’t yet fully understand. This half of the film is done really well, but in my opinion the film loses some of it’s edge in the second act, where Mason is a teenager and is trying to figure out what to do with his life. In the first half Mason was essentially a blank slate that the audience could project their own emotions onto, but the second act of the film becomes more like a character study.
It’s worth pointing out that many people who see this film will essentially be looking back to the past, and into the events that shaped their own childhood. I have the privilege of being 17 years old, and thus, the events Mason experiences in the film, are my past, present and future. And it may just be my biased opinion, but the ‘past’ sections are done better than the ‘present’ and ‘future.’ So maybe it’s the fact that my high school graduation is ahead of me and not behind me, that I look at the second half of the film differently.
I am confused about the screenplay. The script couldn’t have been written in 2002 and just left alone. There are way too many moments in the film indicative of their time. (which I do think is done well, making the film feel like a time capsule) But I do have to give credit for the actors for pulling this off. Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke are both really good, but the selling point for me is Patricia Arquette, who will hopefully get an Oscar nomination to show for her work.
I also think the film is edited really well. Granted, the length does start to get to me near the end, but considering the editor had 12 years of footage to work with, the final project is pulled of remarkably well.
I do, to a certain extent, understand why everybody seems to love Boyhood. I do think it is a very strong film, and I command Richard Linklater for attempting a project of this magnitude – and succeeding! I’ll admit that there are certain parts that didn’t do it for me, but that may be because I have yet to finish my own boyhood.