Boyhood Screen 93 of 35 reviews

Boyhood

2014

Boyhood Poster
  • The tour de force of its making is central to our experience, a cognitive-conceptual layer of engagement that plays against the gentle naturalism of the fictional scenes. It keeps us in mind of our own will to believe in narrative fictions: we're a part of this project too, contributing our own narrational energies to keep it sticking together despite the making-of documentary simultaneously playing in front of our faces.

  • What makes the film uncanny is not the way in which its characters or even its plot mirrors the real, but rather how precise a metaphor it manages to be for realism itself. Its conceit, in which the passage of time isn’t faked, is the engine that drives the car, but its chassis is the relative stagnation of its characters

  • Boyhood is charmingly imperfect, with hitches and snags and moments that simply don’t work very well. I won’t say these aren’t flaws. But … rather than detract from the experience, these made the film feel riskier as an undertaking, and marked by fingerprints. It’s unscrupulous though to note the movie’s nostalgic strains without also looking to the horror not of aging per se, but of having to convince yourself that youthful dreams you’ve had are worth giving up … “for the best.”

  • Intentionally or not, one of the finest US films of the 21st century to date reflects the receding primacy of movies in the young imagination.

  • The movie is an affirmation of, an insistence on, humanity; it is not that Mason “becomes” a man, but that each moment in his life becomes a part of his person. Where traditional coming-of-age films are forced to focus on how a single moment or series of moments changes a person, Boyhood, due to its scope, allows itself to amass a multitude of moments into the person who experiences them.

  • The movie is such a strong, intimate account of multiple aspects of the life and times of its protagonist, Mason, who’s played by Ellar Coltrane with an exemplary mix of commitment and unaffectedness, that it’s easy not only to see the movie as exclusively his story but to believe that “Boyhood” partakes entirely of his point of view.

  • How the hell do I begin talking about this? Usually movies will suggest obvious paths along which I can start writing, gradually getting deeper, eventually broaching their inner recesses. But Boyhood is a maze of such paths, looping and intertwining, each passageway leading to another. Every single instant in the movie is a thematic nerve ending... Watching this, to be frank, was a tad overwhelming, and the more I think about it the more awed and devastated it leaves me.

  • Much is made of the fact that Boyhood was shot in real-time, a total of 39 days over 12 years, from 2002 to 2013. What transpires within these clear-cut chronological brackets, however, is much less straightforward. In fact, the cinematic medium here might be said to be _unreal time_, so elastic, and so weak in its power to eliminate that it seems to extend indefinitely in all directions, a horizontal field of possibility.

  • It's all a blur. The blur is indescribably moving. We've seen people age in movies and on TV programs... but we've never seen it happen in such a compact span of screen time. That's what makes "Boyhood" singular. There is no other work to which one can directly compare it without distorting pop culture history. This movie is truly its own thing, as eccentrically unique as Linklater's breakthrough "Slacker," another Austin-set feature to which "Boyhood" feels (curiously) like a companion piece...

  • Part of its magic comes from the ever-present tension between the viewer’s appreciation of the onscreen action and their knowledge of the audacious extra-textual aspect... The film’s completion, given all the variables that could have affected it, is remarkable; that it works so beautifully is miraculous.

  • There isn’t anything else quite like “Boyhood” in the history of cinema, although that wouldn’t matter one-fifth as much if it weren’t a moving and memorable viewing experience in the end... If you find yourself on this movie’s wavelength, you’ll feel, as I do, that it comes awfully close to a masterpiece of American moviemaking, and an entirely new use of cinematic time.

  • André Bazin wrote that art emerged from our desire to counter the passage of time and the inevitable decay it brings. But in “Boyhood,” Mr. Linklater’s masterpiece, he both captures moments in time and relinquishes them as he moves from year to year. He isn’t fighting time but embracing it in all its glorious and agonizingly fleeting beauty.

  • It simultaneously functions as a coming-of-age comedy, mother-son drama and nuanced cross-section of Texas life as the state shifts from red to blue, maintaining urgency and a steady stream of performance surprises (and punchlines). Its cumulative impact, triggered by Olivia’s brief freak-out and Mason’s necessarily tough-minded/callous moving on with his inconsequential life, is an embedded shard whose sadness cuts deep.

  • This is a narrative about life at its most mundane—its minute gestures, its daily disappointments and happy surprises, its gradual forward motion—and in its unhurried, unforced observational style and humane warmth Linklater may indeed have ended up with one of the greatest stories ever told.

  • Linklater renews our expectation of cinema as a realm of wonder—but not by advancing its techniques or reveling in its increasing capacity to reshape reality in its portrayals. Just as the goal of time-lapse photography is to present normally imperceptible phenomena for scrutiny—flowers blossoming, clouds tumbling across the sky, and so on—he finds a way to give us the lives and bodies of his characters, who grow and change against the backdrop of the world and its events.

  • [Linklater] is often pegged as having a fixation on time, but another way of looking at him is one of our great American diarists, in a tradition stretching back to the age of Emerson. That reflective tendency, and openness to philosophizing, doesn’t preclude a deft feel for what’s experienced in a moment of fear or wonder or joy, even as lanky Mason grows into a reflexive, perhaps divorce-influenced casualness towards conflict.

  • Time flies in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which is both a conceptual tour de force and a fragile, unassuming slice of movie life. Two hours and forty minutes in length, it depicts the maturation of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from a six-year-old child into an eighteen-year-old young adult. There has never been a fiction film quite like it.

  • This decade-plus-in-the-making labor of love whose protagonists age and mature right in front of your eyes is a sprawling yet intimate vision of life and strife presented as a piece of pure Americana—the work of an auteur at the zenith of his art.

  • It sounds pretentious to say this about a film that’s basically free of any heavy-handed gestures, but the hidden aim of Boyhood is to dismantle that convention in mainstream narrative cinema that characters’ lives have to be defined by prescribed momentous events (first kisses, nuptials, etc.).

  • ...Who knows what mainstream audiences will make of a twelve-years-in-the-making film that grows up alongside its characters, changing style and composition and tone and acting proficiency as it goes. Who knows if they'll be as moved as I was, or as appreciative of the fact that I never felt what I thought I was going to feel, or felt it when I thought I would feel it, and thus felt all of it more deeply and sincerely than I ever would have otherwise.

  • In places, Boyhood may recall the ambling lenience of Linklater's Before films... The difference is that this film's knowingly prosaic revelations belong not to starry-eyed lovers, but economically stressed single mothers and tripped-out teenagers, and as such they feel... more honest. Linklater has crafted a quotidian epic, a film sprawling in scope and ambition, bottomless in human feeling. Not since Altman's Nashville has an American film felt as real as life itself.

  • The slightest gestures—soft push-ins with the camera, for instance—take on the weight of the world. Watching the actors age creates an incredible effect. Watching the children awkwardly grow through prepubescence and adolescence becomes intensely moving. One can't help but be proud and amazed as the adults they will become start to shine through the cracks.

  • As a boy, Ellar Coltrane, unassuming, somewhat sympathetic, not particularly extraordinary in any one aspect or another, is just right; as a teenager, though, he’s a phenomenon, quietly heart-breaking and somehow emanating something of the very essence of the late Oughts and early 2010s. At this point in the film, the chiming of inner bells had more to do with my own teenage son right now than with memories of my past.

  • Cool as it sounds, this long-game gimmick doesn't automatically guarantee profundity... But amazingly, depth is exactly what he achieves, by letting the years play out in an uninterrupted, three-hour flow, and lingering on moments that most films would cut for pace. Boyhood feels unprecedented for its intimacy; the process is quietly radical (with a hat tip to François Truffaut's 20-year Antoine Doinel series that begin with The 400 Blows in 1959), but the unassuming script even more so.

  • The results would be fascinating for this conceptual stunt alone. But as Boyhood observes the aging process, the film slowly turns profound. Everyone begins as a blank slate, it argues; it’s life and experience that make people into individuals.

  • Eschewing a conventional narrative arc, Boyhood maintains a sense of purpose as it moves forward one year at a time, gathering snippets of life that would be largely inconsequential on their own, but cumulatively add up to a thoroughly involving trajectory... Every aspect of the film is firmly anchored in American—specifically Texan—culture, marking Boyhood as the latest and richest chapter in the director’s career-long ethnography of his home state.

  • If the movie ends up painting a slightly rosy, even sentimental picture of the road to young adulthood – or at least, in the boy Mason’s case, to his first day at university – Linklater’s assured sense of psychological and sociological detail means that as an evocation of the experience of growing up, the film will ring a great many bells for those who see it.

  • Drawing on approaches derived from serial narration and adapting them cinematically, Linklater has found a way to give unprecedented depth to his characters. A third dimension that does not originate in technique but is the outcome of a more diverse and more complex relationship between the time in life and narrative time. In this sense Boyhood is a unique and literally unrepeatable project.

  • For me, watching “Boyhood” incrementally on Blu-ray inspired a desire to cast off the story and experience the movie shot by shot, perhaps even in a random sequence, in the manner of Chris Ware’s graphic-novel-in-a-box, “Building Stories.” Were it possible to so program “Boyhood” on disc, narrative would melt away to leave a succession of exalted present moments, a composition in the avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren called “transfigured time.”

  • The passage of time always gets me in movies – I recall sitting stone-faced and impatient through the recent True Grit remake, then totally losing it when grown-up Mattie showed up in the epilogue – so a film where the passage of time is the actual subject seemed a surefire emotional sledgehammer. In the event,Boyhood left me surprisingly unmoved – yet it’s stuck in my mind in the days since, if only by virtue of uniqueness. Like I say, everyone should see this movie.

  • I wish Linklater had the time to settle into these sequences longer, to bathe in the totality of moments a little more. It’s an absurd wish, but I think it would be a greater film at five hours than three, to allow more weight to accrue to each image – to discover how they snuck off with that Victoria’s Secret catalogue, to see the little adventures that feel so momentous as children.

  • Boyhood, a rather aimless amble through Mason's coming of age, may be less rehearsed than Linklater's "Before" trilogy, but nearly every shard of expressly banal incident that makes up the story is too-insistent on blaring the film's thematic fixation on growth.

  • In many ways, Boyhood is like watching incredibly slow time-lapse footage of an insect from the larval stage to the moment it emerges from its chrysalis, except that we also get to peek inside as it metamorphoses. And Linklater wisely opts to focus almost entirely on glancing, offhand moments, which makes his occasional stabs at conventional drama—the abusive drunken stepdad stuff, in particular—seem all the more clumsy and misguided.

  • [Linklater has] steadily constructed one of the most formidable filmographies of our generation with one accomplished feature after another. The thing is, I don’t quite consider Boyhood to be among the best of them... For all of its long range scope and ambition, I find it lacks the intimacy and the specificity of his greatest films. It feels too much like an all-purpose anthem for the coming-of-age experience, which may account for why it’s so phenomenally popular.

  • ...A rather tepid coming-of-age flick whose chief gimmick—the fact that it was filmed over a ten year period, enabling us to watch the juvenile actors grow up—was sufficient to wow most audience members into overlooking the rather banal, cliché-ridden script (though considering it runs nearly three hours in length, perhaps that’s just my sore ass talking).

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