Friday, July 25, 2014

Film Misses the Highs and Lows of 'Boyhood'

Review of "Boyhood"
Some films are so impressively made that they are fascinating to watch but not great to recommend to others. Unfortunately, that is the case with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood film. The movie premiered at numerous film festivals across the country and won as many awards along the way and rightly so. What makes this film so special is that it took over 12 years to create using the same cast so that we seem them literally age right before our eyes.

Boyhood tells its tale from the point of view of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who was six years old when the project began, and his journey from boyhood to manhood. For the most part, the story is realistic. Mason is a child of divorce. His mother (Patricia Arquette) does her best to make her house a home for Mason and his bratty older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), by putting herself through school in hopes of making better living. Along this journey she meets and marries a couple of abusive husbands. Mason’s father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), has been in and out of the kids’ lives, but vows to make a more concerted effort to be there for them and does a reasonable job of it too.


Ethan Hawke takes a selfie with his co-stars Lorelei Linklater
and Ellar Coltrane. (IFC Films)
Boyhood is an interesting experiment in filmmaking. Mason’s and Samantha’s looks change constantly. Hairstyles go from long to short to long again. (This includes Arquette’s long hair to the drastic bob she wore while filming NBC’s Medium and Hawke’s appearance and disappearance of a creepy mustache.) Through all of it, Coltrane proves that he can act at any age. Ironically, Arquette’s acting gets better as the film goes on. Her lines seem forced at the beginning but become more natural as the film goes on. The parents aren’t perfect, but they “are there” for their kids and that says a lot. Still, when Mason comes home drunk, it doesn’t faze his mother much and throughout the film, Mason Sr. speaks highly about the usage of condoms so that Jr. and his sister don’t make the mistakes he did. Surprisingly, there are a few scenes where church and religion is brought up and they treated with respect.