REVIEW: Boyhood (2014)

The following is a spoiler review of Boyhood, a Richard Linklater film.

There’s something quite special about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. This isn’t like anything else you’ve seen in the cinema. And I know what you might be thinking – is this like a documentary? No, this is not filmed like a documentary. No, this is not a mockumentary. You’re not going to see a Modern Family-like camera setting. This is simply a story about a boy, or rather a story about one kid growing up.

Now, this movie throws you some curveballs. Some might be led to believe this film is about parents splitting up – it’s not. Some might be led to believe this film is about a violent stepfather – it’s not really. Sure, there are elements of the aforementioned plotpoints. With that having been said, this film is simply about life. It’s about a single-mother, her disobedient daughter, sibling-rivalries, learning to allow your parents to move on from eachother. This is life.

Filmed over the duration of 12 years with the exact same actors – Boyhood is unique. The two main children are not really trained actors, as far as I understand, but following them grow up is a sight to be seen. Interestingly, the daughter in the film is the real life daughter of the director – and her character is significant. Mason Jr. (played by Ellar Coltrane) is really intriguing, but while he’s the main character in Boyhood, it’s his parents that provide the most stellar performances seen in a while.

I’m a big fan of Ethan Hawke, and his character’s transformation is possibly the most interesting. For while Mason Jr. & Samantha go from children to teenagers – Ethan Hawke’s Mason Sr. goes from mid-life crisis dad, worrying about his children forgetting his role in their life, to a new father – a new husband – trying to juggle two lives; becoming a role model in the process.

But while Hawke’s character finds his spot in the world eventually, he might be the only one doing that. Samantha and Mason Jr. go their seperate ways as they need to build their own lives – it’s exciting to watch Mason Jr. finally being able to build his life (in spite of some problems along the way).

This film is depressing too, though – and it is due to an amazing performance from Patricia Arquette’s Olivia. Arquette deserves an Academy Award for her performance, she really does, as she is dealt some very tough cards in life. It’s tough for Olivia, as she has seperated from Mason Sr. and rather quickly gets together with Marco Perella’s Bill Welbrock. Bill ends up being a heavy drinker, and a violent one at that – as becomes apparent when his strictness evolves into hitting Olivia in front of Mason Jr. And eventually another man becomes a problem. This is tough for Olivia, and I dare you to not feel heartbroken as Olivia finally breaks down in front of Mason Jr.

But as I said, this film is about life – and doesn’t rest by these plotpoints for too long. Life goes by fast, and so does the various events in Boyhood. So will Mason Jr. have a disappointing life, like his mother did? We don’t know, all we can do – as viewers – is to leave Mason Jr. at College – just like Olivia does. A boy became a man, and it is his job to evolve. We witnessed this coming of age-film – and it was absolutely perfect.

Overall Score: 10 out of 10. This is my favourite film this year, and it really is stellar. This is a unique film, don’t miss it.

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