Plot: A boy grows up in Texas. Filmed over 12 years using the same cast.
Review: Before you read this review I suggest you see this movie. You might love it, you might hate but either way it’s a worthy attempt at a different type of movie that everyone should watch.
SPOILERS A few weeks ago I said that The Stand used all the tool that Stephen King has to offer and Boyhood feels like Richard Linklater using all his tools to tell his most epic film. But that’s not a bad thing and it works in the film’s favor.
Basically the film is a big gimmick of filming the movie over several years so that the boy in the coming of age film actually comes of age. But gimmick or no, the film is still impressive because of this and it’s a bit fun to see the actors all grow up over a little more than a decade. I mean what did Linklater do when he realized his kid actor was going to have the most annoying voice in the world or when the kids went through their chubby stages. Everything is here warts and all and it’s fun to see. IT definitely adds a lot of realism to the film as you feel like you are growing up on him.
The film is super realistic and that’s both it’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. Because it feels so real, the film also meanders. Especially near the end when the boy reaches about 16, the movie could really end at any moment but it keeps going even if it didn’t have to. In addition to that, the film sometimes slips into melodrama and false philosophizing that Linklater loves to add to his films. But it’s not as bad coming from a dumb kid we’ve watched grow up because we know where he is coming from. The melodrama on the other hand was a bit unneeded and I felt hurt the realism.
Also near the end, a theme of trying to find your place in the world or what the meaning of life is comes up for no reason and out of the mouth of an 18 year old sounds as pretentious as I make it sound. Also they make a point of saying how school and big events aren’t really what defines you and they are just another part of your path which is a good theme but the last scene undermines the whole thing. It doesn’t ruin the movie and fits his character but it is a weird thing as if Linklater was like “oh shit I don’t have an over arching theme! I gotta put on in!”
But the film is more good than bad and a few minor steps is expect for such an ambitious movie. One of my favorite things is how the film doesn’t forget that kids are kind of jerks. I mean we all were. It’s a part of growing up and finding ourselves. I mean I’m probably still a jerk as I try to find myself but it’s there and this film doesn’t shy away from it. One of my favorite scenes is after leaving the abusive husband, in one of the more eye-rolling parts, the daughter yells at the mom that she has to wear old clothes at her new school because they had to rush out in fear of violence. ”This sucks” she screams at a mom that’s on the edge. It grounds a scene that was starting to feed on melodrama (which again is kind of Linklater’s thing.)
The ability to turn any situation into a selfish act or to blame our parents. These little moments are the best ones and the movie is a really an experience even if i’m not sure I would want to revisit it again, a lot like life.
Trivia: Linklater would essentially film a 10 to 15 minute short film every year for twelve years and then edited them together into a feature.