So this is it. This is the movie that’s been garnering accolades uncontrollably, picking up statue after statue here and there at award shows.
Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, has gained near-unanimous international acclaim and has been named one of the best movies of 2014 across different outlets. Already with a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama in its wing, Boyhood is expected to soar on Oscar night and claim the coveted Best Picture statue. But does the film deserve it?
The story follows the Evans family: divorced parents Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), and children Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and younger brother Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane). Shot over 12 consecutive years (a few weeks from each year), the audience gets to see the Evans family grow up as they face the trials and tribulations of life and bask in the glories of success, big or small.
I watched this movie several months ago (before all the hype), thinking it was going to be phenomenal. And in some ways, it was. When it came to its central theme, however, I wasn’t jumping up and down.
One of the greatest aspects of this film is the acting. To think that Arquette and Hawke manage to stay in the mindset of their characters for 12 years and not change drastically (not any more than the role demanded, that is) is phenomenal. They both deliver great performances with Arquette shining like never before, in a way reminiscent of her motherly role on Medium, a previous TV series in which she starred, and Hawke portraying a character that was so human and so likable and remained so over all 12 years. Coltrane and Linklater also do fine jobs with their roles, albeit Coltrane being a bit too unengaged at times, breaking the connection with the audience every now and then, but then again, is that not how we grow up, engaged at times and infinitesimally so at others?
The editing in the movie is quite great as well. The transitions from year to year are done very smoothly, and elements of mise-en-scéne — that is, the props, and costumes, and every other physical object in the setting of the scene — are keen indicators of the timeline of the movie.
Yet another great aspect of Boyhood is the score. The filmmakers pay careful attention to the music in the film to keep it consistent with the yearsof production.
Boyhood wasn’t perfect. And here’s where my problem comes. This is, when push comes to shove, a movie. And if we to attribute all of its shortcomings (rare as they are) to “life,” then we really can’t critique it. But this isn’t life, it’s fabricated life, and the theme of boyhood, of growing up, can be critiqued. In fact, it’s been done before and in a better way when a small TV sitcom called Boy Meets World captivated a generation for seven years to come when it first aired in 1993.
Now, I’m not being unfair. I know that Boyhood is only three hours and Boy Meets World is a fully-developed sitcom, and props to Linklater for portraying life in three hours, but it didn’t completely work to be honest. The story follows Mason Jr. primarily, but the way his storyline is carried out and the way his character is developed is very stereotypical. Too stereotypical. He had all the cliches of cheap rom-coms and that took away from the sense of realism the film was trying to produce. He wasn’t around long enough in each year for people to feel connected to him, and even when they were close to, he disappeared and was back a different person. It was like that classmate in middle school we always wanted to be friends with but never was approachable, but let’s not get into my childhood (no? Okay).
Overall, one cannot but appreciate the effort and the execution behind Boyhood. The way it was made is reason enough to celebrate it, but the theme is one that’s been done before and one that has left a lasting impression on its viewers. It may not be just to compare the two with regards to theme, but if I’m only to consider the originality of the plot, I’d have to consider my experience with the theme. And when it came down to it, the plot of Boyhood failed to inspire me as much as I wanted it to.
In the grander scheme of things, do I think it deserves to win Best Picture? No. Not really, although I think it might. Actually, I’m pretty sure it will. Still, it is worth a watch just to see the experience, and I’m sure you film-lovers out there will appreciate the execution, as you should.
Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought of Boyhood!
Image Sources: justclicktowatch.so, mashable.com, metacritic.com, boyhoodmovie.tumblr.com, our-mag.com
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