Boyhood is the movie this awards season that has been getting tons of buzz since its release. Now a front runner for Best Picture, Boyhood has been lauded by many critics as a “masterpiece” and “the best movie of the year”. I’m sorry but was it really? It is just that I watched Boyhood and I did not feel as strongly about it as almost every other film critic.
Directed by Richard Linklater and shot over the course of 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood follows the life of a young boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from ages 5 to 18. Depicting Mason’s adolescence, the film also focuses on his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) along with his sister (Lorelai Linklater).
The concept behind Boyhood is breathtaking in a way. 12 years, one boy, the audience literally gets to see him grow up before their own eyes. Yet, I have a feeling that this concept is the reason the film is sweeping the awards.
Boyhood does deserve some of the praise. It is amazing that they were able to accomplish such a unique and landmark film. The movie is like a time capsule. The only way to really distinguish the passing years other than the characters’ haircuts, was the cultural references. It was cool to hear the popular music of each year and have memories thrown at you of playing Oregon Trail in school and waiting for the Harry Potter books to be released. The film takes you back. However besides the 12 years concept and besides the nostalgia Boyhood brings, what else was there? There was no story. It merely scratched the surface of the characters, showing random and quick glimpses into their lives. By the end, the reel just kept going on and on. There was no connection or underlying point. Was that the point of the movie? That life is just a handful of memories and snapshots that bring some kind of significance but no real meaning. If so, then I missed the point of the movie.
Are film critics so caught up in the 12 year concept that they were either too astounded or afraid to badmouth any part of the movie? (Sorry for all the questions, I promise I’m done!) I was simply disappointed by the end. I found myself waiting, waiting for some kind of moment that would tie it all together. Perhaps some moment of appreciation between Mason and his mom (which by the way I feel should have been a relationship showcased more than that of him and his dad) or maybe one scene where the sister did not complain about something! I wanted to care about Mason, really connect to him and maybe I did in the beginning of his childhood but by the end, I was over him. He grew to be a moody artistic soul who simply drifted. The only character with some sort of development was Mason Sr, the father.
The acting in the film was fine and I thought Patricia Arquette gave a solid performance for her underrated character. Everything about Boyhood was pretty solid, except the story. Again, if that was the point then forgive me. However I was just unsatisfied at the end. Okay so I watched 2 1/2 hours of this boy coming of age, but somehow I feel like he did not grow at all.
ALL IN ALL: While the concept behind Boyhood is great and deserves praise, the film’s central premise and story does not deliver any satisfaction.