I under-described Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood (IFC Films, 7.11) in my initial Sundance review. Calling it “a mild-mannered thing, and yet obviously a mature, perceptive, highly intelligent enterprise” didn’t quite get it. No film in the history of motion pictures has ever delivered Boyhood‘s scope, concept or ingredients — the lives of a young Texas kid (Ellar Coltrane) and his sister (Lorelei Linklater) and their divorced parents (Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette) filmed over 11 or 12 years. So it’s really quite special and, yes, historic in that it captures stage-by-stage growth and aging and the usual surges and setbacks, but it’s also quite well done in each and every way. It’s never less than expert; never less than intriguing or astute or resonant. And yet it’s fair, as I stated last January, to call it “a remarkably novel, human-scale, life-passage stunt film.”
Boyhood grows on you like anything or anyone else that you might gradually get to know over a long stretch, and yet the 160 minutes fly right by. The long-haul scheme naturally gets in the way of what most of us would call a riveting drama. A film of this type is not going to knock you down with some third-act punch. It drip-drip-drips its way into your movie-watching system.
I can’t honestly call Boyhood staggering or mind-blowing but that’s not a putdown, given what it is.
19 year-old Coltrane has an indie movie-star quality — centered, good-looking, magnetic, non-actorish. He’s a bit short but I’d rather watch Coltrane than, say, Dane DeHaan (also shrimpish) as your generic sensitive young guy. I recognized aspects my own sons in the appealing Coltrane. He seems exceptionally intuitive and mature beyond his years, and quietly sexy in a confident, cat-like way.
Boyhood is steadily affecting and fascinating (simply watching these obviously smart, sensitive kids evolve and mature is worth the price alone), and you’re constantly aware of director-writer Linklater and his actor-collaborators making an effort to flesh out the narrative in a way that feels honest and observant and which keeps you interested and “rooting,” in a sense, for the kids and their parents and respective mates to survive and work things out as best they can.
Life happens, man. Look at those ten-year-old Mac computers! Thank God I’ll never have to deal with the Harry Potter phenomenon ever again — over and done with.
It’s interesting to note that Arquette marries and divorces two dickhead conservative alcoholics over the course. It’s one thing to live with or marry a bullying asshole on your own but subjecting two kids to this shit is highly unattractive. Talk about tripping repetaedly over the same stone. They both seem nice enough at first but then you get to know them. The first guy, a tequila-swilling, gray-haired shit with a flabby stomach and appalling taste in clothes, is the worst of the two but the second guy, a military veteran who works as a prison guard, runs a close second. I had an alcoholic dad (nowhere near as bad as these two guys but still) so I know the territory.