"Boyhood" (2014)- Movie Review

Written and Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette
‘Absolutely Unforgettable’

About halfway through Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, there’s a scene which everyone can relate to in a way. Taking place in a classroom, it follows the daily routine of middle-school students. When a young boy enters the class on his first day, the teacher warmly introduces him to his new classmates. However, as they turn to stare at him, the reaction of the students is vastly different from that of the teacher’s. Observing the boy in the most suspicious of ways, they seem to be deciding whether to greet him or ignore his presence.

If you’ve ever been in the shoes of that helpless boy, you’re not the only one. When you’re growing up, life throws many obstacles in your way from making new friends to living up to your parent’s expectations.

 Yet, what’s so important is to make the most out of every moment because you may not get to experience it ever again.

“Boyhood” is an enlightening, moving and absolutely unforgettable film about how these moments shape up who we are in life. A coming-of-age-story, it brings to light the ups and downs that one experiences on their journey growing up. Yet, the twist is that rather than being a typical Hollywood production, it’s been filmed over the course of a jaw-dropping 12 years. As the time goes by, we get to know the characters very well, get emotionally attached to them and relate to their situations. The results are simply extraordinary. In the midst of all the Summer entertainers that have been released, this film truly feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One that will definitely be talked about in the years to come.

How refreshing is it to come across a movie in Summer that doesn’t offer loud explosions, big action sequences or dumb humor. Sometimes, all it takes is a relatable story to captivate an audience. In the case of “Boyhood”, it’s a simple story of life that unfolds in epic scope. Tracing the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a young boy from age 5 to 18, the film takes you on a journey through the days of growing up. As the years go by, we literally see a child grow into a mature adult.

Writer-Director Richard Linklater, best known for adolescence films like “School of Rock”, is in a sense the perfect director to take on this story. As a filmmaker, he has so far made movies revolving around children, school and relationships. With “Boyhood”, he combines all three topics to create an extraordinary movie about growing up. Using a talented cast, a wonderful script and a beautiful soundtrack, he creates the definition of movie magic.

Yet, what’s most surprising, is despite the epic scope of the story this is a film that feels intimate. The script is filled with quirky situations, witty dialogue and characters that are easy to identify with. Not only does this make the movie engaging to watch, it grounds it in a reality that’s very rare to see in entertainment that’s released nowadays. Perhaps the best way to describe “Boyhood”, is that every scene in this film is believable. The situations flow together like the lyrics from a beautiful song, melodic and straight from the heart. What’s fascinating is that each one- whether it’s through humor or a feeling of sadness- can be related to in a way.

It’s also not often that you come across a movie as impressively acted as “Boyhood”. Showing 12 years of life onscreen, without the aid of makeup or special effects, is no easy job for an actor. It’s the commitment of a lifetime, one that only an exceptional star can pull off.

Ellar Coltrane is one of those actors, who in his very first role, delivers a performance that will not be forgotten in the years to come. For a debut star with little to none experience in the industry, Coltrane has a true gift for acting. To call his role in this film difficult, however, would be an understatement. It’s an extremely challenging character to pull off, with the actor having to portray in order a child, teen and even an adult. Yet, what’s truly extraordinary is that he pulls it off. As he moves from one stage of childhood to the next, you almost forget that you’re watching an actor on screen. It’s the definition of a life-changing performance.

In a huge ensemble cast, however, it’s not just Coltrane who leaves a lasting impression. As the Dad who simply wants the best for his children, Ethan Hawke puts a smile on your face every time he appears on screen. His monologues on life are not only funny to watch, but a revealing look at what it’s like to be a biological parent. Even more impressive is Lorelei Linklater, another debut star, who like Coltrane is proving to be one of the rising actors in the industry.

On a technical level, you won’t find a better looking or sounding film this year than “Boyhood”. Visually ‘stunning’ isn’t a compliment I toss around everyday, but this is a film that truly deserves that merit. It’s a treat for the eyes. Capturing beautiful landscapes of America, from plain fields to greenery, the movie is breathtaking to look at. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is unique. A compilation of music from the last decade, it weaves a spell on you from start to finish.

Yet, what truly stuck with me after seeing “Boyhood”- what makes it a special film- is the personal connection that I have with it. Like Mason (the main character), I’m still growing up, figuring out what profession I’d like to pursue in life and who I am as a person. This is one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s also one of the few movies this year that made me happy, angry and sad, sometimes all at the same time.

Do yourself a favor. Skip all the Summer blockbusters that have been released this year and go out of your way to see “Boyhood”. You won’t regret a single minute of it.

5/5 stars

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