HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:77
“Boyhood” is one of those films that has been a long time coming, and this time it’s not hyperbole. Richard Linklater spent 12 years on this film, filming it in pieces and chunks over the course of the main actor’s lives in an effort to get a GENUINE snapshot of the evolution of the characters, including the evolution of the actors themselves. Up until this year I had heard very little about the film, just that it was Linklater’s baby and that it was going to be a work of art beyond anything seen. After watching it, finally, I can see the definite appeal of the work. It’s artful, insightful and the ability to watch the same people age over the course of the film is genuinely awe inspiring, even though I there are a few hiccups and pacing problems that keep it from becoming something truly perfect.
It’s hard to describe the plot of the film, as there really isn’t ONE cohesive plot. Rather we spend the 2 hours and 45 minutes walking along with Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he travels from young child to adulthood. We have his mom, Olivia, (Patricia Arquette), his father (Ethan Hawke) and Sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, daughter of the director) and several other characters and family members that come and go over the 12 year journey, but those four are the main staple of the film. Even though the film claims to be about Mason’s journey, it’s just as much about the journey of the other family members as well. We have periods of time where we see Samantha aging and burgeoning into womanhood, and great amounts of time spent to mommy dearest and her stumbling around in life, trying to make sense of the card’s she’s been dealt.
Growing up in a broken home is hard for the family, but Mason’s father is a generally good guy. Over the course of time we see the young man who ran around in a Mustang GTO slowly mature and settle down, even if it’s too late for Mason, Samantha and Olivia to reap from the benefits. We watch the evolution of Mason, as he unfolds his young wings into those of a man. As a child he just wants to play video games and have fun. In middle school he’s trying to find out what makes himself tick, in high school he learns the pitfalls of life and as he moves off into his own during college we see the maturation process come full circle, back to someone who’s just like his younger self. Naïve, but wise, curious and full of life, wondering what the next step will bring.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36273[/img]The movie is going to affect people in different ways. It will appeal to some, and will definitely not appeal to others as its laid back pace, and lack of a single coherent plot with three consecutive acts may put off some people. Even I have to admit that there were points where I felt like an outsider looking in, as we view pieces of Mason’s life that just seem inconsequential to the narrative process, and seem to be just personal moments that are private to his inner most thoughts. At other times I’m in awe at the powerful tapestry that unfolds as you see “life” at its core. The struggles, the trials, the confusion that can happen at times. The problems that occur, the moments of happiness that occur and the joy in reveling in those moments. As I said, life.
The film runs a fine line between feeling like a documentary piece and a full-fledged film. The color grading and digital photography seemed to mimic that smoother frame rate that you see in documentaries and the quick shifts between large gaps of time also reminded me much of it. However, the star power and the loving hand that crafted this undertaking is proof of its filmic nature. The movie itself may best be remembered as an incredible undertaking more than an incredible story. When you watch a slice of someone’s life, you have the natural limitation of not seeing a proper beginning, middle and end, but rather just what happens to the person during that little slice in time. Ironically this slice of life happens to be a huge 12 year stint and yet still, it maintains that similar feel, just on a larger scope. The undertaking is still something that is truly inspired and well done, though. Linklater’s decision to shoot over 12 years and to use the SAME actors gives the film a very organic feeling, grounding it so to speak. Normally in a movie we see an older actor with makeup to look younger or older, or different actors who look similar trying to portray the characters, but here we have ACTUAL young actors who morph into ACTUAL older actors. There is a sense of realism and authenticity that I haven’t seen before in any other movie because of that single artistic choice. It can’t have been easy, as the characters have YEARS between shootings sometimes, which makes it extremely difficult to get into character and remember how you were acting this time 3 years ago or so. That alone is a testament to the dedication to one’s craft.
Watching with a group of people was a must for this review as I get to see the different reactions of people to the unique film. As I expected there was a distinct different to their feelings. Some were in awe of the movie, others bored spitless and still others connected with parts of the movie, but not with others. That’s what is really beautiful about the film. There is SOMETHING in some part of the movie that will connect with a person, as the movie is so rich and diverse that there is a parallel to each and every one of our lives at one point or another. The film itself drew heavily on director Richard Linklater’s childhood and as such there are certain slants or experiences that some people may not share, but in the end life is diverse and so encompassing that we start to see the similarities in our own struggles and trials that happen when we move from young person that needs taking care of, to finding our own way in the world.
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36281[/img]"Boyhood" comes to Blu-ray with a solid, if not always spectacular, looking 1.78:1 AVC encoded transfer. Filmed over 12 years there is a bit of a difference in the style and texture from era to era, even though a great amount of effort was used to blend the differently aged pieces. Most of the time we have some very good detail, but the image doesn’t always pop as other films do. The image can be a bit soft at times and the blacks can crush just a tad. The colors, on the other hand, look bright and cheery for the majority of the film. There is a definite warm push to them and the bright greens and blues and reds of Texas look resplendent on the disc. There is some occasional noise that shows up in the darker scenes, but those are usually short lived and only take up a fraction of the runtime. Overall it’s a very good picture with some flaws that seem inherent to the pitfalls of shooting over such a large amount of time.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36289[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track is just what one would expect from a drama film. It’s rather straight forward plenty of emphasis on the dialogue and mild use of ambient noises etc. Said dialogue is exceptional with no sign of distortions, dropouts or ill balanced effects. Everything in that front soundstage sounds about as perfect as you can expect. The surrounds and LFE channel suffer a bit as a result of the type of film, but they are still utilized sparingly. The sounds of the different cities that Mason and crew travel to are well represented in those side channels, giving us some nicely placed sonic details, and the LFE adds a little bit of weight when needed, and certainly fills out when the Coldplay inspired score comes into play.
• The 12 year project
• Q&A with writer/director Richard Linklater and the cast
While I am truly in awe of the effort and incredible uniqueness of the movie, I recognize that this is film is going to affect people differently due to that selfsame uniqueness and that will create a bit of a mixed reactionary base for the movie. I really enjoyed the movie and couldn’t believe that a 2 hour and 45 minute slice of life drama captivated me that much, but still recognize that it’s all encompassing tale of life kept it from being as tight and cohesive as it could have been. As a technical and film making piece it is something to truly marvel at, and even with the flaws that come about as a result I must say it was one of the more enjoyable slow moving works that I’ve seen all year. Definitely recommended.
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Elijah Smith, Ethan Hawke
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Written By: Richard Linklater
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 164 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 6th 2015
Buy Boyhood Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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