Thursday, February 26, 2015

Boyhood (2014) - Take 2

A few days removed and 165 minutes later I can rest easy that I am not just a warped, frustrated old man.

After a sufficient break from Oscar films and a few episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a cleanser, I returned as promised to Richard Linklater's Boyhood. I won't be backpedaling too far in this post; it's more of an update and addendum to my ever so slightly harsh words issued on the weekend. 

I stand by the fact that the first half hour is not easy to sink into. Knowing that it is nearly three hours beforehand was a detrimental piece of knowledge to have. I was actually surprised that for me, after the half hour hump, the remaining two plus hours went rather quickly.

There is no point sharing a summary because it is summed up in the title of the film.


The material itself is mundane, almost dull but relatable in many ways. As a dear friend told me, it isn't a particularly climactic movie but you can't help but start to get attached to the characters. Towards the end though, the young characters were becoming too philosophical and towards the far-left wing. It was encroaching on "My name is Rainbow. I am a gluten-free vegan and my clothes are made entirely from hemp" territory. Not that that is a bad thing, I just can't relate in terms of my own boyhood.


Ethan Hawke performed very well as his slightly grungy but lovable and charming self, which is not surprising in the least. Patricia Arquette's performance grew on me. She convinced me more as an older more settled mother than trying to play a woman in her early 30s in the beginning. She was the most consistent hitter of the actors and she has the hardware to prove it. Lorelei Linklater and her character Samantha were not that pivotal to the story and the film and it was definitely felt when she just slipped away towards the end. But again, the movie is called Boyhood not Girlhood. That would be a nice companion piece in Linklater's repertoire though.


The scenes with Ellar Coltrane who played Mason Jr. were filmed for 3-4 days each year, which is a pretty small window to capture. Yes Mason is a fictional character but as Linklater, Hawke, and Arquette sat down and wrote each year, the story, at some points had to progress along with Ellar as well as Mason.

I loved the subtle (and not so subtle) pop culture references letting us know generally what year it was without having to explicitly tell us. The music was also a nice touch, most used as a tie to the year in which it was shot. The Black Album, the works of Paul, John, George, and Ringo, made by Mason Sr. for his son, is one nice addition to the music department of the film. It is glossed over so cooly in the scene and enhanced its intrigue for me.

I'm not certain how accurate this playlist is but you can check it out here.


So after giving Boyhood its clearly deserved second chance, I can say that I liked it. I think it was one of the best movies of the year but not my favourite. That's not detracting from the film because unlike previous years I did watch all the Best Picture candidates and the competition was fierce. The Grand Budapest Hotel was my pick for best of the year. From the point of view of a novel and creative way to film a story, I am sad that Richard Linklater didn't win for Best Director. It is not however "a travesty" that neither he nor Boyhood won for their respective categories.

What I want to finish with is that while it was a slow burn I did enjoy it. The way the story is told doesn't make me want to see it again but it does make me want to see his next chapter, the 18-30 year old story for Ellar and Mason Jr. Like a TV Unfortunately, it will be another 12 years in the making. 


Notes: 
- Did you like that topical reference in the opening paragraph? Nothing like a 70 year old movie to stay current.

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