Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Boyhood (2014)

                              'Boyhood': An Odyssey Into Simply What It Is Like To Grow Up
       This magnificent film made history by having the longest film shoot ever of 12 years. After finally seeing it, I feel more than fortunate that I seized the opportunity to catch the film that accomplished this feat. Much like how we see performances that are so invisible that you can't see the acting, I feel this film is practically so invisible it doesn't even feel like you are watching a film but a simple odyssey into a child's life.

     Boyhood follows the story of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and follows him as he grows up until he is 18. Over the course of the film, we see him struggle with divorce, adolescence, and whatever comes with simply growing up.

    I'll start off with the acting. After the film was over, I said to myself "Where did this guy come from?" when marveling over Ellar Coltrane's performance. Despite having a starring role, Coltrane just plays his role with absolute ease as he grows up. It doesn't even feel like he is acting. It feels as if he just "does" and he unassumingly takes the audience on his journey. Hopefully, we see more of him on the horizon. A few other actors also really stood out. Patricia Arquette, who plays Mason's mother Olivia, was phenomenal. There were even scenes where she gave me flashes of my own mother and her struggles. Much like how we see Mason grow, we see her grow as well, but emotionally. Another standout was Ethan Hawke as Mason's father. He really brings it home as the struggling father trying to make things work for his children and you really feel for his character. Very soulful performance that when thinking about it, really strikes a chord with you.

    One thing that I thought was interesting was the film's use of different songs played in the film to give an idea of what year the film is into as it progresses. For example, the beginning has Mason's younger sister Sam, played by Lorelai Linklater, singing "Oops, I Did It Again", indicating the film started shooting in the early 00's. Plus, there is one scene where Sam shows her stepmother the music video of Lady Gaga's song "Telephone" on her iPhone, telling us the film is going into the late 00's. I liked that aspect because then the audience isn't left wondering what age Mason is or when the film is taking place as it progresses. I also really liked the direction by Richard Linklater. There was one technique I noticed where once Mason notices his mother talking to a different man, the camera just focuses on his eyes and his reaction, then cuts to Mason living with his family and this new man in his mother's life. He even uses the long tracking shot trick and I thought that was also very nice. Linklater directs this film very naturalistically and I really applaud him for that. I also have to applaud the editor. Even though the film is almost 3 hours long, the way the editor, Sandra Adair, puts the film together allows the main character's transition from kid to teenage run smoothly while still being able to cut to the different points in Mason's life without it being cut too hastily.

    Lastly, I'll get into the story, which can be described in one word: Flawless. I think what makes the story so grand and so void of flaws is that there is hardly a story. The film just consists of us watching a child grow up and there is hardly a story needed. The story is pretty self-explanatory. *Film gets bonus points for the song "Hero" by Flavor Of The Year that plays in the film's trailer.


  Overall, Boyhood is an odyssey that really reaches out for the heart and soul from the minute the film starts to the minute it was over. Its writing is flawless, the direction is beautiful, and the actors are just phenomenal and so invisible, you can't even see the acting. This one I highly recommend you see. I would recommend this one to everybody. It's not too light-hearted, too patronizing, or too dark and depressing. It just simply "is".

Grade: A++

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