Want to see the best film of 2014? Checkout Boyhood in a theater near you. There are great and masterful films that truly move us, but only come once in a blue moon. Last year, for me, it was 12 Years a Slave and now, this year, Boyhood has stepped into that category. Director and writer Richard Linklater (the Before trilogy: Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight) takes us through a simple story of following a boy from childhood to adulthood. But here’s the key, the film actually took 12 years to make and Linklater used the same actors throughout those 12 years. So we truly see these characters grow up before our very eyes. This coming-of-age epic is an unintentional masterpiece on both a technical scale and narrative scope. It’s one for the ages.
Linklater has already proven himself as one of the greats, but with Boyhood Linklater takes his artistic skill to an astonishing new level. This film was shot over 45 days and 143 scenes total from May of 2002 to August of 2013. Think about that … a film taking only a month and a half to shoot, but not fully completing it until 12 years later. That would take a great deal of patience and execution to complete and Linklater efficiently pulls it off. Take some notes Oscars, in my opinion, Boyhood definitely deserves some Oscar love this year. Linklater is not the only one to recognize here as its the actors (Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater) are praiseworthy as well. These actors could have easily opted out halfway through but they didn’t. Instead, they saw the bigger picture of what this film would do not only for the industry but our society.
The plot is rather simple, but ambiguous: Follow a Texas-born boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he grows up literally on screen from age 7 to 18. The lives of Mason and his older sister Samantha (played by Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei) are certainly not easy. Their parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) are divorced and their mom goes from one bad decision to another … by means of not picking the right men (alcoholics). Mason’s mom (Arquette) does mean well for her children and wanst him and his sister to have the best in life, but there’s a lot of immaturity in her character and her decisions. Mason’s dad (Hawke) also doesn’t know how to be a good father and acts like more of a pal to Mason. Hawke and Arquette have never been better and they prove it through their maturity in their characters on screen. The real praise, of course, goes to Coltrane. This is his fictional life we are journeying with for three hours so it has to be more than average.
We are there, all the way, cheering Mason on through his highs and lows up until he starts college. We also see Linklater’s artistic skill incorporated in Mason as he is pursuing a career in photography. All the actors in this film are at the highest rankings and with Linklater’s craft Boyhood blossoms smoothly right before your very eyes. Not only is the acting good but so is the dialog. There are many scenes in this film that draw you back into a memory of your past and that’s when you start to realize the power this film has. You, as the viewer, experience the emotions, the complications and the complexity these characters go through. Linklater knows how to capture the imagination and heart of a boy and in the end he captures ours as well.
Boyhood succeeds in every way a film should: it has great actors with strong character development, profound dialog, delightful music, vivid direction/execution and is visually dazzling on both a technical scale and narrative scope. If anything, this is a film to admire because Linklater has done something no one else has ever achieved before on film. Boyhood shows us the beauty in filmmaking and that there is hope for a brighter future in film again. Please go see this film. Go see this arousing time lapse unfold on screen … you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t. I give Boyhood the highest of highs … five out of five stars. In my opinion, it’s one of the best films of the year.
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