At last it’s here! The tour de force that took the film fest circuit by storm, the film that blew 99% of RottenTomatoes critics away. The movie is about a boy’s life from the day he enters first grade through his first day in college. What makes this film ground breaking is the way the boy and the other characters age during those 12 years. Richard Linklater, the director and writer, did not use a series of actors to play the boy at different ages. Nor did he use makeup or camera work to make the actors look like they aged.
What he did use: real time. The film was shot over 12 years; each summer he’d film with the same actors for a couple of days up to a week. So that the actors aged alongside their characters.
For example, Ellar Coltrane, the actor who plays the boy of the title, was 7 years old when filming began and 19 when the film was completed. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who play his parents, were in their early 30’s when production began.
Since all the pundits agree that this movie is worth seeing, I reviewed movie reviews by critics from lesser-known sources who prove, once again, that there is a fine line between pretension and poetry.
1. Popmatters.com, no byline
Spoilers: After 12 years of movie-making, is this critic really going to ruin the experience with spoilers? You betcha. Skip this review.
Pretentious or Poetic? This is what review says about the movie’s focus on mundane events in the boy’s life:
We forget the big impacts on our lives, and instead concentrate on the smaller things….As we grow older, those hours suddenly shift into minutes which then turn into seconds. Before we know it, all that’s left are impressions. We eventually refer to them as memories, but over the long haul, many of those memories don’t represent the things we actually want to remember. Instead, they are just points on a map, dots we eventually connect when we’re feeling wistful. We’ve arrived at the destination, unsure of how we got there.
2. Christian Science Monitor, by Peter Rainer
Spoilers: Not spoiler-laden, but the spoilers he includes are doozies.
Bottom Line: Grade A, despite the fact that, as Rainer says,
Linklater’s risks in this film are as much aesthetic as practical, and occasionally they don’t pay off. Sometimes banal is just banal. There are boring stretches during which I would have welcomed a little Hollywood hoo-ha.
Pretentious or Poetic? This is what the review says the movie’s theme:
The fact that the film, for the most part, is a triumph owes something…to the very nature of the project itself. Linklater has always been captivated by the mysterious passage of time in his movies, no more so than in his great “Before” trilogy, filmed over 18 years and starring Hawke and Julie Delpy. But “Boyhood” is something else again: a movie about time’s passage that is itself an expression of that passage. It’s the ultimate time-travel movie into the future, a “flowing time sculpture,” in Linklater’s own words.
3. Irish times, by Donald Clarke
Spoilers: Don’t ask. Un-skimmable.
Bottom line: The film received 5/5 stars. (I’m so totally annoyed by the spoilers.)
Pretentious or Poetic? A metaphor that runs through this review:
On hearing about the latest film from Richard Linklater, the reasonable observer might cautiously summon up one of Samuel Johnson’s more caustic (and sexist) one-liners: “A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
In short, Boyhood has at least the novelty value of Dr Johnson’s famous dog. Nobody has ever done anything quite like this before.
Then again, it is every kid’s story. That’s what happens when you blend the universal with the particular to such extraordinary effect. Forget Dr Johnson. It is done very well indeed.