Thursday, 18 September 2014

Boy Inside the Man - Movie Review Boyhood

The other night Chris and I went out to see Richard Linklater's film Boyhood.  This groundbreaking movie was filmed over several weeks a year for 12 years as we watch main character Mason grow-up in front of our eyes.  The script had input from all of the actors through the entire process with scenes being written often the night before they were filmed each and every year.

Here's a quote from Ethan Hawke on the movie, "I play the father, and it's Tolstoy-esque in scope. I thought the BEFORE series was the most unique thing I would ever be a part of, but Rick has engaged me in something even more strange. Doing a scene with a young boy at the age of 7 when he talks about why do raccoons die, and at the age of 12 when he talks about video games, and 17 when he asks me about girls, and have it be the same actor - to watch his voice and body morph - it's a little bit like timelapse photography of a human being. I can't wait for people to see it."

Boyhood movie review

Movie Review:  Boyhood

As I clock in more and more hours on my parental time card, I have a broader point of reference of what it means to be a parent.  In the past I have credited my generation's (Generation Xennial - not quite a Gen X or a Millennial)  arrested development as evident by the portrayal of parenthood as inherently uncool.  Boyhood is about "Boy" Mason growing up, but it also tackles issues of adult maturation as portrayed by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette who play Mason's parents.

When I was younger I loved the movie Reality Bites, particularly Hawke's dreamy Troy Dyer, for his slacker approach of sticking it to the man and being way too smart for his BS retail job, but not committed enough to do anything bigger or better for himself or anyone else - other than be cool guy Troy Dyer.  Today I can't watch that movie without cringing because I don't "get" broody Troy any more and have a growing affinity for sell-out, corporate Ben Stiller's character Michael who represents everything my generation is supposed to hate.   This movie embraces what happens when a "Troy Dyer" type has a kid and then eventually, slowly grows up alongside him and for this it is truly brilliant.  Both Reality Bites and Boyhood are set in Texas - coincidence, probably entirely, but in my opinion serendipitously so.  I believe that the generations before us struggled about becoming grown-ups just as much as we do, they just don't complain about it constantly.  Maybe that's going to be our trademark.

Best Parts of the Movie
I love photo albums.  I think I'm one of the only people I know who still prints and keeps photo albums.  This movie is like a live action photo album where you get to watch the good, the bad and the ugly of growing up - with moments that most albums and social media just don't capture. Arquette is wonderful as a struggling, mostly single, mom in a way that is sometimes painful to watch.   The growth of Hawke as Mason Sr. into manhood and real fatherhood is the unsung subplot of this journey.  It's an interesting choice that Linklater's daughter is a family member along for the ride as Mason's older sister Sam with a natural fraternal chemistry between the two actors.  The soundtrack is a definite highlight with music from each specific year and new and old classics including: Gotye, Wilco, Flaming Lips, Cold Play, Bob Dylan and Arcade Fire.

Worst Parts of the Movie
I would argue that the actors got stronger in their performance as the time line continued and as they aged, however the actors have had years to get inside the heads of these characters by the time the film comes to an end.  I struggled with the mixed messaging about drinking surrounding the romantic partners that Arquette chose and the way they plagued her family's lives - but this may have made the character seem more real, I haven't quite decided yet.

When would I Let Molly and Jack watch this movie?
I'd say this is a PG 13 type of movie that I would be comfortable with Molly and Jack watching as they approach their teen years and I don't know how much interest they would have before that anyway.

Overall Rating
This movie is a trailblazing accomplishment that the entire cast should be proud of.  If you are expecting pivotal plot points or a definite climax, this isn't the movie for you.  If you want a cinematic experience that's more about the journey then the destination, strap yourself in, you're going to enjoy it and all of its beauty.  I would rate this movie 4.5/5.

Ellar Coltrane is Mason

To read my review of the movie Neighbors click here

To read my review of Saving Mr. Banks click here

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