Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Boyhood is the story of a young man named Mason and his journey from being 6 years old, to 18 years old. No substitute actors were used – all actors in the movie genuinely took part in the 12-year filming. It was shot intermittently over a twelve-year period, as Coltrane grew from childhood to adulthood; beginning in the summer of 2002 and finishing in October 2013.
You are about to witness a little boy grow into adult within 3 hours..
Ellar Coltrane – Mason
Lorelei Linklater – Samantha
Patricia Arquette – Mom
Ethan Hawke – Dad
Marco Perella – Bill Welbrock
I’ll begin this review by applauding the cast; a handful of people who actually signed a contract back in 2002 to film a movie for the next twelve years. Boyhood is a cinematic first, a total breakthrough in how movies are made and it is this element alone which surrounds the film in dynamic splendour, makes it as interesting as it is. Christ, imagine being asked in 2002 to play a character in a movie but being told you won’t see your name in the credits until 2014. I would probably have burst out laughing. Think about it – 2002 seems like a bloody lifetime ago.
I myself was 19 years old and just leaving college the summer that director Richard Linklater opened the front door of young Mason’s house and started filming.
Sugababes and Pink were at the height of the charts. Winona Ryder’s shoplifting trial began, as Michael Jackson confused his laundry with his child as he dangled the poor baby over a hotel balcony. I specifically remember Shakira’s “Whenever Wherever” playing out of radios everywhere.
For the love of god, I had a skinhead!..
What I loved most about Boyhood was how I could relate to the characters – without actually relating to them. It was the subject of time which bound me to the characters I watched on screen; the life events they experienced, I had also experienced. This movie blended a fictional family with the non-fictional world events which unfolded across the years. A reality show – but also a movie. What a fantastic concept. I couldn’t help thinking of The Truman Show during certain parts of this; scenes which echoed the same sort of idea, but instead the main man plays the part of someone else – and knows he is being filmed.
I have to be honest – this movie had me feeling quite emotional. At first I couldn’t understand why, but realised it had something to do with watching a little boy grow up infront of me. At the beginning, little 6-year-old Mason (little Ellar) is picked up from school by his mother and the next few scenes involve family dinners, playing with his friends, etc. The scene fades out and then back in, to find Mason walking through his living room as an 8-year-old.
Before you know it he’s 12.
This isn’t just a movie character changing, it’s the actor playing him growing up too.
I watched as his jaw became rounder, his features became more masculine – it was life, happening right in front of me. I felt as though I was growing with him.
The director doesn’t smack the audience with obvious “look at how old he is now!” type signs as the boy’s age changes, his years just accelerate naturally as the movie progresses. This has to be one of the best elements of Boyhood; no tacky ‘Five Years Later’ banners popping up on screen, etc. – the feature moves at the pace of any other film, only the difference is the main characters have aged significantly in the following scene. It’s fantastic. Emotional.
What I was surprised at most during Boyhood, was the lack of boredom. Before seeing the movie I knew the plot and assumed I would get bored, just sitting watching a boy play with his computer, having dinner with his family, etc. On the contrary, I enjoyed every minute. And the reason why I enjoyed it so much was that the script was so real, the chemistry between the actors so natural. Scenes between the kids involved fighting and name-calling in younger years, which developed into serious conversations later on. Things a lot of us have done ourselves in real life. I sat smiling as I watched Mason’s stepfather fail spectacularly at playing golf, laughed heartily at his real father (Hawke) giving him and his sister a serious-turned-hilarious talk about contraception, sympathised with his mother as she struggled to cope with certain life decisions…
I honestly cannot describe the effect this movie had on me, I just felt like I could relate to certain things, and knew exactly where the characters were coming from. It allowed me to absorb the entire thing in my own way.
One scene made me laugh out loud. Around year 2007, Mason and his father are camping in the woods, when conversation turns to Star Wars movies. Dad says, “I wonder if they’ll make another Star Wars movie?..” which ignites a conversation between the two about whether there would be more in the series, and what the titles would be.
I literally felt like a time traveller – back in 2007 with them, but with knowledge of the future they had no idea about (including future Star Wars features). Thing is, as actors these two had no idea either – which added to my enjoyment of their naivety. Boyhood is like a time capsule, sequences captured in the past which have now been opened in 2014. It was as though I had stepped into Doctor Who’s TARDIS, been whisked through time, landed in 2002 and wanted to inform the actors of what has gone on over the last twelve years (and perhaps confirm or deny their Star Wars query).
I lapped up every second of this ‘almost time travel’ dynamic; the producers struck gold with this.
Keep your eyes and ears out for various clues as to the year – certain songs and events are played which give a subtle hint as to where and when you are.
Whether it’s a song playing on the radio behind Mason or Samantha looking at a video on her computer, there are little clues scatterd through time.
The hints include:
“Oops!…I Did It Again” by Britney Spears (2000)
“Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow (2002)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book release in shops (2005)
Nintendo Wii (2006)
Obama elected as president (2008)
Twilight book series (2005)
The launch of Facebook (2004)
“Love Game” by Lady Gaga (2009)
“Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye (2012)
Another interesting element – playing ‘Guess The Year’.
Near the beginning of the movie when he is a little boy, there is a scene where Mason gets into bed to go to sleep. Distant pattering of rain can be heard on his bedroom window – kind of calming I thought. Later on in the movie it happens again, but this time during the family’s dinner time. Ok, so it can rain at any time.
However, the next time it happened was when Mason and his father are inside a bowling alley.
..turned out to be the sound recording.
In certain scenes it actually gets quite loud, becoming a blatantly obvious fault. Maybe the director used the same camera from 2002, because this wasn’t 2014 quality – it sounded like video recording equipment from the 1980’s. This muffled rain-like sound threw a spanner in the works during quieter scenes, making it hard to focus on what the actors were saying.
Don’t see if you can spot it – see if you can avoid it!
Boyhood is a wonderful piece of cinema, and its faithful cast ensemble are to be respected for their twelve-year dedication to producing the movie. Anything can happen to a person within twelve years, but whatever they did in their personal lives, they continued to let the cameras roll.
A film about a boy growing up is one thing, but having him grow in front of your very eyes is one hell of a beautiful thing.
This movie tapped into my emotional depths as I sympathised with the characters and in the end, the most incredible element of all wasn’t even the on-screen story – it was real life Ellar and his fellow cast members personal dedication which showed wonderful integrity.
If you’re going to watch this, DO NOT have any interruptions. No switching off and continuing it a few days later, etc. – Boyhood should be devoured in one sitting so that you get the full effect of the boy growing, and you can appreciate the story too. This is one of the best films I have seem at the cinema.