Boyhood (2014) Review

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Boyhood (2014)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Patricia Arquette
Ellar Coltrane
Lorelei Linklater
Ethan Hawke

Running time: 166 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Boyhood is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Richard Linklater and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. The film was shot intermittently over a twelve-year period, as Coltrane grew from childhood to adulthood; filming began in the summer of 2002 and was completed in October 2013.

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My Opinion:

I’ll get straight to the point: This movie is NOT for everyone. Unless you’re already a fan of Richard Linklater’s style, it’s very unlikely that you’ll enjoy this film. This is long (2 hours, 46 minutes). There’s a lot of talking. Not much happens. If you don’t like this type of movie, don’t go to it. Luckily, I saw this movie during the day with only a few other people in the cinema. My poor hubby saw it in the evening in a packed cinema. As soon as the movie ended, all he heard around him was people bitching about the movie. (“That was way too long!” “Nothing happens!” “Who would ever want to sit through that again?!”). This is where the general movie-going public gets on my nerves. Do a little bit of homework before going to a movie! There’s this thing called the Internet where you can find out what a movie is about. And when you looked it up to see the showtimes? Well, guess what: the length of the movie is listed there as well! Shocking, I know. Maybe look on IMDB & see if you like other films the director has done? If you can’t be bothered to do any of these things, either stay home or shut the hell up. Okay – rant over! Maybe I’ll talk about what I actually thought of Boyhood now…

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I went into this movie with very high expectations. I’m a Linklater fan – I love the “Before” films and Dazed & Confused is one of my very favorite movies. To be honest, I was kind of hoping for one of those “life changing” films. Fellow movie bloggers should know what I mean by that – You know how some movies really “move” you and make you want to be a better person & all that shit? Things like The Shawshank Redemption, Cinema Paradiso & WALL-E do that for me. Anyway, I didn’t really get that sort of experience from Boyhood. Watching a boy grow up before your eyes like that is a pretty cool experience, though, and you certainly have to give Linklater credit for taking on such a hugely ambitious project. To make a movie out of 12 years’ worth of filming is a hell of an achievement. Does it all come together as an enjoyable “movie”, though? Maybe not quite. In a way, it’s more of a “social experiment” than a film. As a social experiment, it works & it’s pretty amazing. As a movie, it falls a little bit flat.

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Boyhood is very much like Before Sunrise, etc, with the talking and the improvisation and the feeling that you’re just watching normal people going about their daily lives. The characters don’t work together quite as well as Hawke & Delpy did in the Before films and the banter feels a little less natural than it did in those. Plus, it feels like there’s even less of a “story” in Boyhood. I’m not really going to fault Boyhood for a lack of story, however, as that’s not really the point of the film. As much as I wish it was, life isn’t a movie. It’s filled with long, boring days. It’s how you get through those days and the relationships you have with others that really matters in life. And blah blah, yada yada… We all know this although very few of us choose to “seize the day” and all that (I know I don’t live that way). Boyhood attempts to show us this but, for me personally, it didn’t quite connect with me in the same way other films with a similar theme have.

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I don’t feel I’ve done a very good job explaining my feelings in this review. I think Boyhood is very good. It’s unique & a great piece of art. Watching the character of Mason (as well as the real-life Ellar Coltrane & all the other actors in this film including Linklater’s own daughter) literally age 12 years in just under 3 hours is, well, pretty damn special. I did genuinely care about the characters (especially Mason but also his mom, played very well by Patricia Arquette). Boyhood is very much a Richard Linklater film – it’s all about the characters & their relationships. I sounded slightly negative in my review as I KNOW some people will hate this movie if they’re expecting something other than a Linklater film & I suppose I wanted to let those people know what they’d be getting themselves into if they choose to watch this. No, it’s not a movie I’m likely to watch again anytime soon but that’s because it’s not really that type of movie. It’s more of an experience and I’m happy I managed to see it in the cinema. I recommend Boyhood but probably only to Linklater fans and/or those who are interested in filmmaking in any way.

My Rating: 8/10

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54 thoughts on “Boyhood (2014) Review

      • well, i finally saw it and eventhough I’m not a Linklater fan, I felt very similar to what you wrote here. I was expecting a life changing film, but in the end I “only” got to watch a family grow up (together and apart” for 12 years.

        It’s a cool idea, but I think we might have been able to get the same kind of story with interchangable actors as the kids.

        The fact that numerous scenes were “moment” scenes based on what was happening in the world at the time, it feels very timely eventhough it spans 12 years, something that a film maker couldn’t achieve by filming it all at once.

        I’m gonna post my review later today if you are interested in reading it.

        Thanks Mutant!

      • Yeah – it sounds like we felt about the same about this one. If you haven’t watched many Linklater films, Boyhood definitely isn’t the place to start. I MAY have a Linklater film on your list. ; )

      • Lol! I said ones you’ll both like. Do you think you’d like the same movies as Eric?! No one likes the movies Eric likes… Lol! ; ) I’ve made a deal with him – I’m actually giving him 10 as there were far too many I want to force him to watch. As punishment, I have to watch some of his. ; ) I’ll email you about it later – I will post my lists for you both but it’ll be a LITTLE while yet as I’m too busy with something at the moment. (IRL) ; )

  1. Nice review, and I can see why people who don’t like Linklater’s earlier stuff wouldn’t like this. I thought it was great, wasn’t disappointed at all despite all the hype. I doubt whether I’ll see a better film this year but who knows right?!

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed this one as well. : ) Only had one commenter say they absolutely hated it so far! Thought there might be more. Can understand WHY some will hate it. But I do love Linklater and I think it’s really impressive that he’s done this film. : )

    • Thanks! I think people are pretty divided on this one. At least, that’s the impression I get from the comments. ; ) I’m glad I saw it although I know it’s not for everyone. It’s quite an accomplishment!

  2. Oh god, not another positive review for this drivel! I’m so sick of hearing about it! Yes, everything about the premise and its technical aspects is transcendent, but the story and characters felt so lifeless and full of cliches! Anyway, great review! I’m just sick of hearing about how it’s the best movie ever and blah blah blah! It’s not that good. And I love Linklater’s resume!

  3. Loved this movie so very, very much. Would love to see it again, although I think three hours is a bit too much time for me to push away during my day. Maybe another time. Good review.

  4. Great review, very even-handed, which I always appreciate. I think this is a movie for me. I don’t mind long or challenging films (I loved Tree of Life despite being an atheist) and I like movies that deal with growing up/life in general in a frank an honest manner. Great review again!

    • Thanks! : ) It was hard to know what to say with this one. I liked it but understand why some won’t. Sounds like you’d be fine with this! Would love to know what you think when you see it. : ) I’ve not yet attempted to watch Tree Of Life…

    • Yay! I’m glad you liked this one so much, Abbi. I was a little worried after Joseph’s comment… Lol. I was wondering if everyone else hated it! I’ve tried to completely avoid any reviews of it before seeing it – I’ll have to go check those out now & see what others thought. : )

  5. Nice review, lady! There seem to be good marks across the board on this one. It seems to have come out of nowhere! I doubt it will even show here… :/

  6. Great review T9M. I have been on the fence about this one too, I want to see it but there has been no huge, must see driving force for me. I guess out of the sheer interest of seeing how it is put together from a film perspective. Do you think Eric would kill himself if he had to watch this? lol

    And yes people there is thing called the internet and IMBD all kinds of sites that give you movie times and what not. Geez! Your poor husband!

    • Lol. Eric would hang himself!!! ; ) SO few people have seen this – it really didn’t show many places. Would LOVE to know what others think of it (movie blogger types – not the types of people my hubby saw this with). ; )

      • HAHA Eric would walk in watch 5 minutes and walk out or hang himself, either one works. I hear ya that’s how I think about movies too nowadays. Well what do REAL movie people think… that’s all that matters.

  7. I saw ‘Boyhood’ the other day with my mother — lucky enough to be the only two people in the cinema! Absolutely loved it. Cannot stress that enough. The soundtrack was amazing, too. But yeah, I loved the film — I could just have easily have watched it right again. Probably my favourite film I’ve seen this year in a cinema along with ‘Begin Again’. Agree that it was a lot like the ‘Before’ films.

    • Glad you liked it so much! 🙂 It really was amazing to watch someone grow up before your eyes. I wish you’d been one of the people in the theater when my hubby saw it! Still can’t believe how much people were complaining about the movie after it finished…

      • Nor can I… I listened to the soundtrack CD yesterday, and that alone is enough to like the film! The only song I didn’t like is that ‘Good Girls Go Bad’ thing, but especially like the ‘Band On The Run’ & ‘She’s Long Gone’ sequence! The Black Keys are one of my favourite groups, and ‘Band On The Run’ is my favourite Wings song! Normally more of a fan of John’s and George’s solo careers, but I’ve been on a Wings kick lately. As you can probably guess, I love The Beatles — enough to write a blog on them (! And of course, the film itself is utterly amazing… 🙂

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