Boyhood review

Richard Linklater
Ellar Coltrane
Patricia Arquette
Elijah Smith
Lorelei Linklater
Rated: R

The way this film was made was revolutionary, but I doubt many other filmmakers will jump on the bandwagon.

Richard Linklater, who has previously directed the films “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset,” “Before Midnight” and the hilarious comedy, “Bernie,” took on a tremendous task with “Boyhood.” Instead of setting up a certain period of time to complete filming over a year or two, Linklater decided to shoot the movie over a 12-year period.

The 12-year story shown in the movie is perfectly summed up by its title. “Boyhood” follows the adolescence of a boy named Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, as he goes through life from ages 5-18.

If one watches “Boyhood,” which is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray, they have to realize the movie doesn’t have a story in a traditional sense. For example, there isn’t an average three-act structure in this flick.

Instead, the movie feels more like a series. In a way, it is more reminiscent of a collection of short films that are focused on the same subject.

Each segment of Mason’s life feels like a vignette and they all have their own drama and conflict going on. This style of filmmaking by Linklater captures life in straightforward and realistic ways.

There aren’t any moments that feel melodramatic for the sake of doing so. Instead, each conflict the audience stumbles into feels rather human.

Unfortunately, not every segment of the movie worked. There are dull moments during the two-hour and 40-minute runtime and when that happens, the movie really drags. Fortunately, though, this is the exception rather than the rule. The lengthy runtime is typically not felt.

One area the film could have developed more were events from the outside world and how those influenced Mason as he was growing up. For example, there is a moment in the film that mentions the beginning of the Iraq War and I would have welcomed more references like this throughout the movie.

Even though the acting fluctuated at points in the movie, it was strong. Credit should be given to Coltrane, who practically grew up on screen in this movie. In all of the segments Coltrane is believable and doesn’t come off as fake, like some other young actors might.

The adult actors, mainly Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, were the best performers of the movie. Both have characters who are dealing with heavy subjects and problems they have to overcome and each of them portray it very well, especially Hawke, who manages to steal every scene he is in.

Another flaw with “Boyhood,” though, was there were a few characters who came off as needlessly negative. It’s understandable that there are negative characters in a movie, and it’s true in life, too. However, the ratio in this movie seemed a little off and could have benefited from more positive characters in Mason’s life.

Despite its flaws, “Boyhood” is a tremendous picture. It’s like a photo album with snapshots of a person growing up and it was a bold and admirable piece of work by Linklater. The movie is all about life and it captures its subject matter to a high degree. 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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