Boyhood (2014)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Impressive and nostalgic.

And here it is. The movie everyone has been raving about, and curiously also the movie I heard about when production began 12-13 years ago – Boyhood. I really didn’t know anything about the story of the film until I actually watched it other than the basic idea that it’s about a kid’s life – and that they filmed these actors on and off for the entire time period to represent the life of a child and those around him as well. Turns out it’s not really about anything else, it’s just that, so I won’t bore you with a plot description, because there is no plot. It’s just – look at this boy become a man, and experience all the troubling events associated with adolescence.

The story of the film isn’t one I normally like, because I prefer movies that have a beginning, middle, and end with a clear-cut plot with both bad guys, good guys, and an overall goal. Those that have one sentence plots really bother me because I don’t like coming-of-age flicks. At the same time, I can’t help but think what they did here was incredibly memorable and quite an ambitious plan from beginning to end. On a technical level, this is a revolutionary film that is a beautiful form of art that we’ve never seen…ever. Watching a kid grow up is one thing, but you’re also watching everyone else grow up as well – some of which are actors you’re already familiar with. Seeing Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette so young again in a new movie was so weird, but so cool at the same time…and then they age ever so gradually – and it’s a sight for sore eyes, because this isn’t make-up…it’s real.

I’ve never seen anything like this in any sense of the word, but I can’t say it’s without flaws. Instead of giving us text cues on where they are in time, we get other cues – like popular music during that time period, news stories, popular electronics, hairstyles, cars – stuff like that. On one hand, that’s really cool, on the other hand – it feels a little forced. There is 12-13 years passing us by on screen, and that’s a lot of time cues…and it starts to feel a little obvious. These were believable time cues, don’t get me wrong, but there were an awful lot of them scattered about…it’s hard not to miss. Maybe it’s just me, but I started to get tired of them a little bit.

As far as story goes, there were a lot of good points strewn about, but I think one of the main ideas was that time passes us by faster than we ever considered possible, that life is so short, and we don’t have the time to screw around. That’s fine, but I truthfully felt like the movie was more about showing off – as if it were saying check out these actors age…or here, have some nostalgia from the past. I’m not sure if that was the case, but because it squeezed so much time into one movie, it starts to feel like that in my opinion. Bottom line is…it’s a very cool, very interesting movie…but I’m fine only seeing it once.

The Good:

You could almost watch this movie with the sound turned completely off and enjoy it the same, because it’s quite a film. Filming a five year-old age to eighteen is unheard of, and quite honestly an amazing filmmaking feat. Also, to be fair, the narrative of this film has a lot of heart, and the hard work that went into making this realistic as possible shouldn’t be ignored.

The Bad:

If you are like me, you won’t see much of a point of watching the movie past watching a kid and his parents age. Yes, there are great messages, and yes there are great performances regarding maturity and social interaction – but there’s no real plot. I’m a little biased when it comes to coming-of-age films.

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