Sunday, May 3, 2015

BOYHOOD - The Movie - An Instant Classic

Ellar Coltrane
With well over a dozen film credits to his name, Richard Linklater is finally a blip on the proverbial Hollywood radar. Not that courting Hollywood was ever his goal, mind you.

And that's not to say that some of his previous movies like, Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and School of Rock, have not been a success, because they have been popular films by any one's standards.

But Boyhood hit a chord that has resonated and garnered Linklater many awards in the process, including 5 Golden Globe nominations and winning Best Picture, drama, and Best Director.

What is it about this movie that has everyone talking? Well, for one thing, Linklater has managed to show slices of American life in ways that ring true without all the Hollywood-esque bells and whistles. Linklater has also broken a cardinal rule in filmmaking, more than once. Not only has he filmed a family chronicle in real time, he's done it on a "measly" 4 million dollar budget.

Film students and screenwriters take note, Linklater probably had something to prove, and he finally has. Let's break it down. "A" list actors: check; Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Who more can you ask for? How about the boy in Boyhood, Mason, nicely played by Ellar Coltrane, and his sister, Samantha, played by Linklater's astute and ever-so-adorable daughter, Lorelei Linklater; all amazing performances.

How about a killer script? Well, the screenplay was written on the fly but manages to work miracles nonetheless. I mean, how many movies have scenes like this? Who is that hoola-hoop girl anyway?

Another scene that stands out in my mind is when Mason winds up at a concert rehearsal, when his father's band and its lead guitarist dedicates a song to Mason, the high school graduate.

But not before his father distills a bit of wisdom about Mason's recent break-up with his girlfriend, Sheena, and what might explain his own divorce to Mason's mother.

"Women are always looking to trade up. I think that's what happened to you."

What I really like about Boyhood was how Linklater managed to show us a glimpse of the recent past (2002) and a taste of the present (2013), and how the life and times of a boy like Mason, is affected by all  its ups and downs.

The story's through-line is really all about Masons future as an artistic photographer in the midst of divorce and the choices young boys must make when at a crossroads. This main theme comes to light in the film's last scene (Spoiler) when Mason and his new friend, potentially his girlfriend, both under the influence of pot brownies, chat about seizing the moment.

Boyhood is a smart and subtle study of the life and the hardships of a middle-class suburban Texas family break-up and how, despite its stigma, divorce is not the worse that can happen. Life can indeed go on, seems to be the takeaway. And a very poignant one at that.

I rate Boyhood 9 out of 10 stars.

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