Dir.: Richard Linklater
Richard Linklaters new film is alive with the energy and confusion of its characters as they grow up in front of our eyes.Much has been said and written about the film being shot over 12 years with the same actors and how they change physically in front of the camera in an organic way and how Mr. Linklater makes them change emotionally.But the film owes its greatness to the treatment of the subject rather than the conceit of its casting device which is how films should be made in a utopian world.Well maybe.
Boyhood is closely observed without being prying into the lives of young Mason(Ellar Coltrane), his sister and his separated parents.As Mason grows from a little boy into a sensitive young man we meet him at various stages coping with and enjoying life, while his mother goes through two more marriages with abusive drunks.As Mason is growing up so is his family and to me more intriguingly so is Mr Linklater. He has made that very well-loved trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as lovers and a lot of other films.He is one busy hardworking filmmaker and this is one project that sits well in his repertoire of youth films which include Dazed and Confused and Slacker.I particularly loved his recent film Bernie and the only complaint I had with it was that it was too closely observed, too neat.Not this one though, Boyhood is content at many times to just get lost in itself, daydreaming away to glory.
Mason and his sister Samantha( the directors daughter Lorelei Linklater) could have been damaged goods, their growth and personalities stilted by all the domestic mayhem around them, but instead they turn out be regular kids with their own share of problems and very organic solutions.Their lives could have been one rocky roller coaster but in Mr Linklaters steady hands they pretty much cruise through puberty and young adulthood.Films give us highlights of people’s lives but in case of Mason and Samantha we get authentic slices of life.Ethan Hawke as the father who is also metamorphosing in front of our eyes is delightful as a cool hip guy who made the mistake of becoming a father when he was not ready but takes the consequences in his stride.
However it is Masons mom(Patricia Arquette) who has to do all the heavy lifting of single parenting and we see her coping and growing up too in her own unique way.The beauty of the film is the lack of judgement at the actions of any of its characters.They are all honest and authentic, they make good and bad choices, are strong and weak and always very human.Despite its very American setting the film is very universal especially in a globalised world. I felt the Singaporean audience warm to the film all around me and by the time the curtains went down a good 166 minutes later the auditorium was suffused with a warm glow despite the ruthless air-conditioning.
Good films make us think of other good film and I found myself thinking about Todd Hynes’s I’m Not There., in which different actors including Cate Blanchett played John Lennon at various stages of his life, each performance perfectly encapsulating the great mans spirit with little regard for physical resemblance’s. The other film is Almost Famous with its giddy portrayal of a boy allowed into the adult fantasy world of a rock tour by a famous band.And strangely some sequences of wanton boyhood from Terrance Malik’s profound Tree of Life too floated back into my consciousness, all delightful side effects of watching a very good film.
At a craft level Boyhood is quite interesting in its creation of intimacy without prying and doing so consistently over a 12 year timeframe.Mr Linklater and his team of mostly female collaborators achieve this with very matter of fact and unobtrusive camerawork, clean editing and very solid costume and set design.Unfortunately I saw only the last show of this film and wanted to see it again on big screen. Boyhood needs to be seen in a dark auditorium with strangers in the audience with your partner next to you.Thats the best way to see it and you know your own second best way so let me not come in your way.
Categories: World Cinema