Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Boyhood is a wildly ambitious art film written and directed by Richard Linklater. Whereas most of his films are set in a single 24-hour period, Linklater (Slackers, Dazed and Confused) filmed Boyhood over twelve years. This is a gimmick, but it is also an unprecedented artistic undertaking, and makes this film truly unique. Over the course of three hours, you can watch characters and actors actually age twelve years. This is an extraordinary thing to experience.

The title of Boyhood would lead one to believe that Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is the main character, and he is, but the movie is really about his entire family - sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director's daughter), mother (Patricia Arquette) and father (Ethan Hawke). This family begins the film broken, and progresses in ways both predictable and unexpected as the children grow and the parents age.

This is not a film with a tightly woven plot and crisp script. This film is messy and meandering, like life is. It is slow, and quiet, without even a score (though it does feature songs appropriate to the periods in which it was filmed). It is a three-hour piece of performance art on film, and as such is unlikely to appeal to a mass audience.

For a willing audience, though, this is a cinematic treat. The cinematography is brilliant throughout, with wonderfully staged long takes. Real artistry, and lovely to watch. The actors' performances are convincingly, essentially human, which is the point of the endeavor.

It would be easy for a project like this to lose itself in pretentiousness. It purposely avoids the usual rules of plot and structure. It has no inciting moment, no antagonist. The main character is not at all proactive. The movie violates the principles of storytelling in a bid to depict real life, and it works. Even though this is a work of fiction, it feels like a childhood condensed to three hours - a dysfunctional, messed up, realistic childhood.

I have never been a fan of Linklater's films. This, though, is a work of art. What Linklater and the cast of Boyhood have accomplished is something that no one else has ever tried to do, and probably will never try again. Well over a century since the invention of the motion picture, this is something new. This is a piece of cinema history, and it is fabulous.

It is, of course, extremely difficult to compare a movie like this to most of the other movies I have seen this year. Normally if I have a hard time deciding between movies of the same overall grade, I go by which was the most fun, but that won't do here. Boyhood earns the top spot due to its artistic importance.

Performance: 4.5/5
Plot: 3.5/5
Production: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Bechdel: Pass
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Fail
What are these?

1. Boyhood
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
5. Edge of Tomorrow
6. The Fault in Our Stars
7. Lone Survivor
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
9. The Wind Rises
10. The Lego Movie
11. Lust For Love
12. The Grand Budapest Hotel
13. Pompeii
14. Hercules
15. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
16. Maleficent
17. I, Frankenstein
18. Monuments Men
19. Knights of Badassdom
20. Divergent
21. Brick Mansions
22. 300: Rise of an Empire
23. Godzilla
24. RoboCop
25. The Giver
26. Winter's Tale
27. Transcendence
28. Noah
29. The Legend of Hercules
30. Need For Speed
31. 3 Days to Kill
32. Lucy
33. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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