BOYHOOD | MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE SFF

This film is a masterpiece of epic proportions in every aspect. The acting, the concept, the people, the lack of actual plot, the character study of humanity and the direction. Let me put it this way, when I was crying towards the end, at near on three hours, I was crying because it was ending, I never wanted it to end and the first thing I said was, “Richard Linklater better be making MANHOOD, as a follow up film.” BOYHOOD is screening as part of the SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL and only has a few tickets left to one session on this Saturday 7th June – you can buy tickets HERE. All other sessions are sold out. It will get an art house cinema release later in the year with thanks to UNIVERSAL. BOYHOOD is rated for festival as 18+ (I see it as an M), it runs for 164mins and is near on perfect.

 

BOYHOOD MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
BOYHOOD | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MASON JUNIOR (ELLAR COLTRANE) MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

BOYHOOD was made over 12yrs. Back in 2002 director, Richard Linklater, cast a middle American family of medium to low socioeconomic standing. The mother, Patricia Arquette, the estranged father, Ethan Hawke, the director’s own young daughter, Lorelei Linklater, and a 6yr old boy, Ellar Coltrane. He also cast us in the role to some respects. The film literally has no purpose or plot really, it just lets us check in with this family every now and then over 12yrs of their existence. We experience and bond with this family to the point of love. We live through husbands, girlfriends, university degrees, multiple houses, alcoholism, puberty, struggles, good times, bad times and everything else about life in between. It follows the entire family but as the film progresses it slowly leans towards the life of MJ, Mason Junior (Ellar Coltrane). Call it voyeurism if you will but it is like we just are a GoPro on the head of one of the families as we traverse the ups and downs of the beautiful battlefield of humanity. There has never been a fictional piece of work this real, it borders on doccumentary and it is raw, no one is an angel, it just is, there are mistakes, every character is flawed, but we see them in life, and embrace the highs and the lows of every character.

 

BOYHOOD ELLAR COLTRANE IMAGE
BOYHOOD | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MASON JUNIOUR (ELLAR COLTRANE) PLAYS DOWN THE SIDE OF A HOUSE

 

Richard Linklater is a self taught writer and director who has gone on to make some amazing pieces of work. One of my favourites, DAZED AND CONFUSED was at the start of his career and then his most well known work, SCHOOL OF ROCK, FAST FOOD NATION and his “BEFORE” trilogy of BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET and BEFORE MIDNIGHT. He has had a long term collaboration with Ethan Hawke that none of use ever really knew included a catch up every few months to make this film. His study of humanity is just beautiful, I wonder if it was ever planned or was it allowed to evolve organically as a film and after each filming segment did he notice something new about the dynamic of the characters that he exploited (in a nice way) for the next segment. The complexity of this is as out of control and as haphazard as life itself. The changing dynamics of family members he captures will make you laugh and cry and at many times want to hug them. For the first half of the film I was wondering why it was called BOYHOOD, I was thinking the title should have been FAMILY or MOMENTS.

The main theme that evolved out of this film, probably not only from the filming, but the story arc were that life is MOMENTS. We got snapshots of moments in time. This film literally is a look through the old family album where we stop and study a photo in depth at each moment we choose.

 

BOYHOOD MOVIE IMAGE
BOYHOOD | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | SAMANTHA (LORELEI LINKLATER), OLIVIA (PATRICIA ARQUETTE) AND MASON JUNIOR (ELLAR COLTRANE)

 

Not only does Linklater capture the family dynamic so well but he captures the time, the pop culture, the fashion, the style and most importantly, the music. Oh yeah, and the abundant hairstyles of them all.

The stand out part for me is watching the characters literally age before our eyes without makeup. I have grown up with Arquette and Hawke and to see their evolution is mesmerising, as it is seeing a 6yr old child become a man.

Two minuscule whines, the two things that I noticed in the film, the first scene with Mason (Ellar Coltrane), he is so camera scared and wary of avoiding it, you may as well have had the camera in shot, this literally lasted for less than a minute but it was the first scene, the first impression, it was quickly forgotten. Then Ellar’s older voice, I loathe to pick on someone’s individuality, but his voice when he is 16-18 sounds like he is stoned the entire time, if you ask my mum though, she will say mine did too, because I was stoned through my entire late teens :). But that stoner voice did grate on me for a while, but like a family member, we all have our annoyances, I piss people off because for some reason I always slide metal forks through my teeth, my mum chews really loud, and Mason Junior has a stoner voice :).

 

BOYHOOD ELLAR COLTRANE IMAGE
BOYHOOD | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MASON JUNIOR (ELLAR COLTRANE) at 13yrs old

 

The acting is all naturalistic, it is (like I have said) near documentary style, the camera is just our window in. I have always loved both Arquette and Hawke and they really do shine in this film. I actually thought Arquette stole the show, if I had to pick a favourite. Her arc was so more severe than the children who had no choice but to be there for the ride. I also think her character is universally more likable than Hawkes’.

Lorelei’s character of Samantha was just how you would imagine a teenage sister would be like, a lot of the time, an annoying sister who wants to really make your life hell. I much preferred younger Samantha than older Samantha, she seemed more removed in her older years and faded more into the backdrop. Was the film originally meant to follow a family, MJ or her and she holds some resentment? I don’t know, I am reading way too much into it I think.

Mason is an amazing character, a character never before seen on Hard Disc Drive (feels so wrong using the word film these days) and his maturing and evolution is like having a younger brother, or a nephew and seeing his highs and lows, I literally came to love him like family, you only want the best for him and you see his vulnerability change to idealism via a trip to noncommittal teenagerdom and a sparked doobie. For me I pretty much saw my entire junior life through MJ. I had the family struggles and alcoholic stepfuckwits (fathers) that MJ did, it was eye opening. I can hardly imagine that Ellar Coltrane is actually acting, I see MJ as Ellar and vice versa. We really saw Ellar grow in the film.

 

BOYHOOD MASON JUNIOR IMAGE
BOYHOOD | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MASON JUNIOR (ELLAR COLTRANE) at 16yrs old

 

The saddest part was this film ending. The best part these actors and character’s and directors can commit to is making this film a legacy and their union as a faux family carry on through to death. He has already visited the idea with the BEFORE TRILOGY, why not continue with this family.

There are so many works of brilliance coming out this year, for anything to top this, between now and DEC 31 it will take a work of sublime brilliance.

 

5 Pops

 

 

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