Boyhood (2014)

Everyone seems to have lost their stuff over this movie, and I can kind of see why. It's an epic tale that is a technical masterpiece that actually follows the aging of these actors along with their characters. Rather than trying to cast people who kind of look like each other, this movie actually took 11 years to film. Few and far between are the writers who can also direct a movie, but Richard Linklater is counted among the few.

The movie is ostensibly about the boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, who grows up in front of our eyes. The story for this movie is actually very weak, but that's because of the scope and the attempt to give such an intimate perspective of this family, their lives, how they mature, how they deal with each other, how they deal with external forces, and how they struggle to better themselves and learn from their mistakes. Ellar, for his part, is actually a good actor. I have no idea how they could have known that that little kid was going to be able to act when he grew up, but score!

The movie is actually about Patricia Arquette, as Ellar's mother. Even though Ellar's character goes from six to seventeen, and he goes through all of the physical and psychological changes that are associated with those years, I really think Patricia's character does the most maturing through those years. The whole family has to deal with her string of poorly chosen sexual partners, but each one seems to step her in the right direction - which might be being alone for her.

Lorelei Linklater, daughter of the writer/director of this movie, plays Ellar's sister. She is not a particularly good actress, but she's not really the focal point of the movie. More interestingly, she doesn't seem to have any familial resemblance with any of the other characters, and that makes her seem like the visual outcast during family moments, and I find it very distracting. Clearly I was alone. As I said, everyone else seemed to lose their stuff over this movie.

Ethan Hawke plays the biological father who wants to be involved in his kids lives while also maintaining an independent life. Ethan has never been my favorite actor, but he is not terrible in this role, and I have to think that a different choice would have made this a much better movie.

The meat of the movie, I repeat, is not the story itself, but the intimate nature of watching this family grow up. And it takes a while. I found myself looking at the time about a third of the way through the movie, as the plot was so damn slow. But that's because I expected stuff to happen, and the stuff that happens isn't epic - it's mundane. And that is the point of the movie. This movie is actually much better in retrospect than it was while I was watching it.

Direction was very good
Story was weak
Dialog was very good
Technical movie-making was excellent
Acting was very good

Bottom Line: Not a movie I'm likely to watch more than once, but a very impressive movie



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