Plot summary (from the studio): Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.
Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It’s impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Ordinarily I would roll my eyes at films called “groundbreaking”, but this effort truly deserves that description. It was very oddly compelling to watch these same characters appear and reappear after years and years and years of real time passed.
- Ellar Coltrane turned out to be a good-looking young man. I don’t know anything about his personal life, but I’m glad he stayed the course with this film and seemingly turned out ok despite being in a project like this throughout his most awkward years.
- I read that Linklater basically created 12 shorts (one for each year of filming) and then more or less edited the results together. Even if I hadn’t read that, I would have guessed something similar because this film is extremely disjointed and choppy. There are no transitions to speak of, and after each new section starts, it takes a while for the viewer to get her bearings and figure out where Mason was in his life.
- Besides Arquette and Hawke, the acting in this was beyond horrible. Ugh, I hate to even bring it up because I’m mostly talking about the kids, but they were simply awful. Coltrane was fine for the last couple of segments, but the sister was cringeworthy all the way through.
While the main filmmaking gimmick made Boyhood worth the 2:45 running time, I don’t think this is something I’ll be revisiting ever again. The cobbled together feel, overall lack of continuity (strange, considering the same actors were used throughout), and bad acting would just overwhelm any subsequent viewing. I give this one 3 stars out of 5.