Boyhood

Movie Review #843: ‘Boyhood’ is the most captivating drama of the year.

★★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

boyhood

Drama
Rated R (alcohol use, brief drug use, profanity, suggestive dialogue)
165 minutes

“Boyhood” is a movie that we watch like a miracle, or as if it’s watching us. It’s a movie we can all relate to. Even if our goings-about in life around precisely the same as they are in the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), we are led to reminisce with times when we felt exactly as he did. It’s a film about growing up, and as Mason watches the downfalls of his older sister (Lorelei Linklater), and even his father (Ethan Hawke) and mother (Patricia Arquette), we begin to realize that when he’s eighteen years old, he’ll still have a lot of growing up to do.

There’s all the more realism and nostalgia in the drama given how it was crafted. Director Richard Linklater put this cast to the challenge of filming on an entirely unorthodox schedule: 39 total filming days, spread out over a span of 12 years. This is a challenge, but it gives the film amazing characterization. I’d imagine that for the four principal actors, shooting “Boyhood” for three days a year was like gathering on holidays with the family that you’re too far away to see at any other time. So naturally, I say that the movie grows better with each depicted year in Mason’s life. He begins at the age of five, and by the time he’s going off to college at the age of eighteen, he and his family have grown into a bond that’s so close, it’s more than simply touching.

“Boyhood” clocks in at two hours, forty-five minutes, and I cannot think of a single more captivating use of my time. I cannot begin to explain how emotionally relatable the film is. (The film also embraces the year-by-year pop culture that, especially for a Generation Y kid, makes it even more relatable.) The film is composed of events that construct the theme of growing up, rather than a plot. There’s a beginning, but not an exposition; a middle, but not a climax; an end, but not a denouement. We’re watching a life as it happens, a tale of the human condition that we relate to with all sorts of nostalgia.

Yet again, Richard Linklater has helmed a love letter to Texas. And perhaps for the first time, he has directed a movie that did, does, can, and will happen anywhere in the world. That’s one thing that sets it apart from his other masterpieces, such as “Dazed and Confused” and the “Before” trilogy. But if truth be told, it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint just what makes “Boyhood” the movie that it is. This is a candidly told drama that we don’t want to end. It’s a truly special film, and it’s more than just that. I don’t have a problem calling it Richard Linklater’s magnum opus, nor do I hesitate calling it a classic.

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