“Boyhood” – Review By Zachary Marsh


I want you to close your eyes for a second.  Think back to when you were about 6 years old.  Think about your voice, your height, your parents and siblings, think about the clothes, music, trends, anything you can remember from that year.  My guess is that not a lot will come back to you since it was so long ago.  If you grew up in the early 2000s, like myself, then chances are a lot’s going to come back to you when you go see “Boyhood.”  Director/screenwriter Richard Linklater back in 2002 cast Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette to play the divorced parents of two young children having to cope with the harsh realities that life gives them.  As for the two children, Linklater cast his daughter Lorelei to play the older child Samantha, and he cast a 7 year old newcomer named Ellar Coltrane to play the youngest of the kids, and the main subject of the film, Mason.  For the next 12 years, this group of actors, as well as another select group of people, would get together to film a “short movie” in order to show the kids and the parents aging as the world changes around them.

I think the biggest highlight of the film has to go to Richard Linklater himself, who has truly made something remarkable here.  It’s one thing to write a script and have actors do what the director tells them to do, but it’s another thing to bring a group of actors back together, year after year, to make something very different from the usual film.  Linklater could have written one long script and have all of the actors say what he originally wrote in 2002.  What he did here instead was just let time, in a way, write the script for him.  He let the actors age for a year before continuing to write the movie, which really adds something to my opinion personally since he didn’t know what was going to happen within the next year.  Luckily nothing tragic like a cast member dying happened, but many things did happen in the history between 2002 and 2013, and it does affect the characters in some way, shape, or matter.  I applaud Linklater for thinking of this idea, and I applaud the cast just as much for being able to take on the responsibility of shooting this movie for a good portion of their lives.

For the first couple of “years” that the film takes place in, the scene-stealer is unquestionably Lorelei Linklater.  She is able to bring the annoying older sibling part out without being annoying, and rather being funny and even quite relatable, personally speaking.  Coltrane was also quite good in those earlier bits, but it’s not until he’s going into middle school when we get to see his true acting chops come into play.  For an actor who never really had such a big role before in his career, Coltrane shines here and shows us true talent 12 years in the making.  He’s incredibly believable as Mason, this everyday kid growing up in Texas, and we get to know him and care for him throughout this 166 minute film.  Patricia Arquette is also great here as Mason and Samantha’s struggling mom, and Ethan Hawke has some great moments here as their father Mason Sr.  Director Linklater knows how to get the best performances out of his actors, and it’s easily shown here.

Some people might look at the run time and say to themselves “Does this movie really need to be 3 hours long?” to which I answer with a simple “Yes.”  Look at this movie next to something that doesn’t warrant a 2 hours 46 minute run time, like “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”  All that movie does with its run time is drag things along and bore its audience with its excessive footage that doesn’t serve the story whatsoever.  In the case of this movie, the run time is warranted because we spend a little bit of time in each of Mason’s growing years, and through that we get to know and care for this guy as he goes from a naïve 6 year old boy to a college-bound 18 year old man.  Not to mention, this movie really never drags one bit.  It might be a bit slow at times, but it doesn’t drag in the slightest, unlike “Transformers.”  If you’re worried about the 166 minutes this movie lasts, I suggest that you don’t worry;  It’s 3 hours well spent, I guarantee it.

I’m not sure how many people are going to mention this, but I have to say, the music selections in this movie are absolutely genius.  The music, to me, helped to advance the story along and set the tone for the year we’re in.  For example, you could have Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun” playing in one area to represent 2002, and then in another part of the film you could have Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” to showcase the year 2011.  The music not only makes the audience feel nostalgic about the past, but they also help to show how much music has changed over the years, and how much certain music could have defined us during those years.  In my eyes, or in this case ears, this music elevated the film and was one of the best things about it overall.

Movies these days aren’t that original in the case that we’re bombarded with adaptations, remakes, and sequels to big-budgeted blockbusters.  Films lack originality currently, with the exception of indie films and some blockbusters from filmmakers like Christopher Nolan.  “Boyhood” not only is original in its story and characters, but it’s also special and unique in the way the film is structured.  Films like this not only come around once in a lifetime, but they can also serve as a theatrical time capsule of the generations of many, including myself.  Richard Linklater has outdone himself here, and for that deserves any accolade he receives for this masterpiece of a movie. “Boyhood” can be called a great or superb movie, but I see it as something more than that: it’s a celebration of life itself and the moments that make us who we are.  If that doesn’t sell you on seeing this, then I honestly don’t know what else I can say to convince you otherwise.


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