As good as it is, Boyhood’s main characteristic is that it’s really, really long.
A unique and commendable production, the film as shot with the same actors of the course of 12 years. The script was written on the fly to reflect things happening in the lead actors’ lives. Over the course of the film, Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) grows up as the child of three divorces. His mother’s marriages collapse around him as background music gets more and more recent. There isn’t really a beginning, middle or ending to this film — it just sort of goes on.
Whether or not a viewer enjoys himself, it is a monumental exercise of disciplined filmmaking.
All the critics seem to be having life experiences at this movie, and it’s easy to see why. Nothing like this has ever been done before. Mason’s experiences are just ordinary enough to resonate with the vast majority of American adults, though it’s focused much more on the negative than the positive.
For me, it was a study in reactions to authority. Nothing much happens directly to Mason, although the characters around him lead very full lives, all of which affect him. Mason has several life decisions made by parents and step-parents who aren’t necessarily thinking about him while they make these decisions. The result, for me at least, is a sad reflection on how our lives can still be largely determined for us.
It would be very interesting to know who’s personal lives are reflected in what. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who play Mason’s parents, are the only actors famous enough to have their private lives accounted for, and since the 90’s they’ve both had several events that could have been directly lifted into Boyhood. There is no doubt this film is extremely personal to the people who made it.
If you can set aside four or five hours, go see this. It’s a revolutionary production, if nothing else, and it’s got the potential to affect its viewers very deeply.
Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a senior staff writer for the NT Daily. Anybody know how to make 16-bit games run on Windows 8? For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for.