Review : Boyhood (2014)
Almost like a time capsule that has been opened, Richard Linklater’s latest offering is possibly the pinnacle of filmmaking, virtually drawing the line of realism throughout and captivating the audience with each progression of the story.
One of the most intimate yet extravagant movies in modern cinema, Boyhood stands out as an ultra-realistic piece that dramatically contrasts the July big budget blockbusters.
Richard Linklater would not necessarily be classed as a household name ala Steven Spielberg, but this could be his launch pad into that category. After viewing the Before Trilogy, a unique story and branch of characters, it is hard to see anything surpassing that type of realism and genius, but Boyhood takes that to a whole new level, with Linklater incorporating elements from his previous movies and expanding to create a masterpiece of modern cinema.
The acting is an integral part of the film, and all actors deliver throughout the whole 12 year cycle. Though some are not present in certain points of the movie, the principal actors were all part of the 12 year shooting schedule and contributed to scriptural elements that define their characters. It is worth noting that due to the small budget, the actors were not given contracts and were not obligated to return every year, but returned year in, year out to complete their work on this monumental picture.
Ellar Coltrane (Salmon when cast), the main character of the movie and that which it follows, can be seen growing as an actor throughout the whole movie, something that isn’t seen to this extent in the film industry. Each year he brings a little more to his character and really comes into his own as he grows up, both in character and in real life. He is surely a name we won’t soon be forgetting.
Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Lorelei Linklater round out the core cast, and provide significant and masterful supporting roles as they make up the broken family that Ellar Coltrane’s character is central to. Hawke, a severely under-rated actor, continues his sustained character driven approach from the Before Trilogy and makes himself memorable in all scenes. Arquette, a questionable choice at first, really blossoms and becomes her character to the fullest extent, showing off her acting abilities in many parts of the movie. Lorelei, daughter of Richard Linklater, is the third piece of the puzzle that makes the family, and unfortunately is the weakest. This isn’t to say she isn’t a terrific actress, she is memorable for the full first half of the picture, but her character seems to trail off in the second half and that’s where she begins to weaken, unable to claw back where she has missed out. All in all though, a great performance from Lorelei which rounds out the family.
The narrative of the movie is vast, spanning a full 12 years and taking into account many major and minor events that occur during the life of Mason Jr. However, it does not alienate the audience with excessive story progression, it gives just enough with each year that passes on screen; and although not labelled, the use of cuts and location show the time progression effectively.
Richard Linklater cements himself as a tour de force in the film industry, a diverse director in every way possible, and Boyhood is his finest hour yet. Festival season 2015 will be an interesting one, especially to see if the major awards ceremonies recognise this amazing achievement, that is not likely to be replicated this effectively. Undeniably unique, Boyhood is a film that speaks for itself, a character study that will stand the test of time.