Everybody who is anybody has been talking about Richard Linklater’s new film, Boyhood. It has gotten glowing reviews and clout for being innovative and powerful. I finally had the chance to check it out this weekend at Curzon Soho Theater.
A quick note about the theater. Curzon is one of the bigger small-theater chains throughout London. We went to the one in the heart of Soho and the West End where we had a chance to see Bill Nighy walking around the back alleys as he waited for his afternoon performance of Skylight to start.
The movie theater is going through some renovations, so we didn’t get to see it in all its glory, but it was still a funky place with a bar/coffee shop on the ground level, and the screens two floors underground. The line for coffee was all of a sudden horrendous, and I over heard two women bickering and complaining about how they will never come back again. But I got my “cuppa” and settled in for the film.
After Mr. Linklater gave us a personal welcome to the particular theater, the film began. At nearly three hours in length, the story follows a boy, Mason, through the formative years of his life from elementary school until the day he moves into college. We see the struggles his family goes through, more notably his mother played by Patricia Arquette as she grapples with being a single mom getting her act together and finishing school. Mason is put in situation after situation that never makes you comfortable from abusive step-fathers, his annoying sister, new schools, girls, and his relationship with his come-and-go father played by Ethan Hawke.
Even if you can’t relate to every situation this boy is put through, you can certainly pick and choose any of these life situations to understand. It was a perfect slice of life genre example giving the audience a snap shot into someone’s life.
After talking with my husband about it, he felt he could only relate to parts of the story. His opinion was it was just a series of uncomfortable moments with no room to breathe.
I have never been in any of the situations Mason found himself somehow magically, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t relate to the awkwardness of growing up which I believe was the other perspective on this story. Everyone has the awkward teenage years to deal with on a personal level let alone everything else that surrounds you, impacting your day to day choices.
What was most notable about this film was the fact it was shot over the course of 12 years. They didn’t change the actors throughout the process. They used real time and allowed the cast to grow in front of our eyes. It begs the question if they were really acting or if they were living their lives in front of us. It was quite impressive to not only see how Mason grew up but also Ellar Coltrane matured over the years, not only becoming a human but also how his acting matured and grew more confident.
Coltrane has only been in a handful of films including Fast Food Nation also directed by Richard Linklater, but I would assume he is going to continue with acting as we’ve seen him become a stronger presence on the screen.
I, personally, enjoyed the film, but for completely different reasons than most reviews commented on. Boyhood was shot in Texas between Houston, San Marcos, and Austin, where Jeff and I hail from. I loved seeing home. The long drives on the Texas highways, the Frost building in central Austin, even the late nights around the University of Texas campus brought back memories and made me miss home just a bit. Quite a feat for Mr. Linklater to accomplish as we can expect there to be many awards coming to Boyhood this season.
4 out of 5 stars.