Saturday, August 16, 2014


While many of Richard Linklater's films are nearly real time (or a little longer)--Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight--Boyhood is the opposite: made over 12 years, it documents one boy's life from first grade through twelfth (although I suppose it mimics the "Before" trilogy in sticking with one cast over many years).

There's nearly universal praise in the reviews (for instance, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a nearly unheard of 99%)--I didn't like it that much (although I did enjoy it). I found it hard to identify with--I'm not a boy (and thought to myself, holy goodness, why do we have to be having a boy?!). Boys come out as pretty passive and not as well suited for the educational regime we have in place as girls (the later seems to be true, what with college admissions and all). I didn't grow up in a broken home--it was sad to see the family's countless moves and losing people in the process. I certainly wasn't emo in high school.

And there was no arc to the story--the pieces were quite disjointed (which, of course, is part of the point). I was longing for something to be more literarily circular and symmetrical in the story. And nothing was. It just ended. The funny thing is, I think that real life is more literary and symmetrical than that film (at least my life is, or perhaps that's just the narrative that I impose on it).

His mother was great--super admirable--you have to wonder how she did it. It gives you a ton of respect for single mothers. Ethan Hawke, who plays the father, was good--but he just wasn't convincing when early on he was supposed to be the deadbeat dad who walked out on them--he's too friendly and chatty and thoughtful to be deadbeat. So the maturing transition that he supposedly goes through just isn't too much of a transition. And the sister--played by Linklater's daughter--isn't great; as Cardigan observed, one would expect Mason and his sister to end up much closer than they do in the film.

As is typical of his films, it's full of great music. And I was worried--it's 2 hours and 45 minutes--but it wasn't boring at all.

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