Monday, August 4, 2014

"Boyhood" Growing up from a boy’s perspective

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Shane Graham

                 Review by James Colt Harrison

Films are usually made out of sequence, shot in small segments and have associated scenes grouped together. Sometimes the ending is shot before the beginning. But never before has a film been shot over a period of 12 actual years as has been Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.  He has used the same actors during that same time frame and they too, age naturally. The film began shooting in 2002 and completed production in October 2013.

Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play the parents of a little boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane). Mason grows up during the movie and we see it all through his eyes. Mason is an adorable boy of 6 years when the film begins, and we go through his entire life until about  age 18 when he is ready to go off to college. His little sister, played by Lorelei Linklater, the real-life daughter of the director, evolves from being a bossy and controlling girl to a loving older sister as they become teens.

Most males in the audience will be able to relate to the trials of growing up---the friends, the smell of the summer grass, the family gatherings, and slowly becoming a grown up yourself as the years pass. All the significant moments in life are here, presented simply, clearly, and in a straight-forward manner without frills. That’s the genius of Linklater’s directing---he has made the ordinary not boring but as a necessary part of all our lives, and especially that of young Mason. This reviewer also liked the film for its simplicity and felt very close to the boy’s experiences.  Mason’s experiences were human experiences and totally relatable by either males or females.

Ellar Coltrane said in an interview with People Magazine that “It was a transformative thing.” Growing up next to his character Mason was “very bizarre to see it all organized (on the screen.) You can look in the mirror, but you can’t really see yourself changing---or how you don’t change---over the years.” As they filmed in small segments over the years, Coltrane became close to his co-stars. “It just became very much of a collaboration. When you’re young, you’re kind of just along for the ride. But over time, we became more of partners creating something.”

Linklater has handled the subject matter and his young star with tenderness and truth. We were thoroughy immersed in the boy’s story and were amused, saddened, cheered, and delighted with the events that shaped his life. It’s a marvelous, stimulating movie.

Boyhood  has been getting sensational reviews and accolades around the world. Rotten Tomatoes called it “Breathlessly intimate” Famed Chicago critic Richard Roeper called it “one of the greatest films I have ever seen.” Awards collected were Best Director at both the Berlin International Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival, in addition to Best Film. The San Francisco International Film Festival awarded Linklater the Founder’s Directing Award.

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