Boyhood  (2014)

PopGap #01: Boyhood (2014)

 
By dorrk, January 18th 2015
Movies of the 2010s: #8 of 20

Boyhood is my favorite movie so far during this month's Popgap project. It's a quiet epic about the cumulative, encompassing experience of life.

Ellar Coltrane stars as Mason, a child of divorced parents whose life growing up in Texas is seen in year-by-year vignettes over the course of 12 years, from ages 6 to 18. His single mother (Patricia Arquette) struggles to balance relationships and her pursuit of a better education/career and takes a lax approach to raising Mason and his older sister, Samantha, while Mason's dad pops in and out of his life, first as an unsteady, drifting deadbeat, and later as the domesticated patriarch of another family.

Boyhood garnered a lot of attention for its novel production concept, shot over 12 years with the same actors, but coverage of that aspect has overshadowed the gentle brilliance of Linklater's sly observational storytelling. Boyhood is not concerned with traditional dramatic conventions but rather with keenly capturing the essence of middle-class existence, notably the preoccupations of parents, the passivity of adolescence, and both the physical dangers and emotional perils that constantly lurk in the periphery.

This one of those polarizing movies that has been both hailed as brilliant and decried as boring; marveled over for its unique 12-year production and dismissed as a gimmick; and lauded for the anti-movie realism of its performances and criticised for bad acting. It seems to me that how well a viewer receives Boyhood probably has as much to do with seeing glimpses of their own childhood reflected back at them as it does how open they are to low-key slice-of-life cinema. It's hard for me to guess how much empathy this movie might elicit from someone completely foreign to Mason's experience, as I related to it immensely and was deeply engaged by its unconventionally patient and unassuming tone. While I can see its lack of an engaged protagonist being troublesome for many viewers, I think that's precisely the main point of Boyhood: how we exist, and grow and develop, sometimes counter to and even despite our intentions, and especially when we're not actively participating in the events that engulf us.

Interestingly, Boyhood has many themes (and one character!) in common with Linklater's masterpiece Dazed and Confused, but examines them over 12 years instead of one night. They make great companion pieces in the career of director who has specialized in studying a very specific milieu with exacting insight.

Trailer for Boyhood (2014)



PopGap
Wire Creative Web Site Management
Dorrk
Dorrk Dot com
Santa's Li'l Gimp
The Godfather


Things we like...

The Top 20 Movies of All-Time

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#2: The Godfather (1972)

#2: The Godfather (1972)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#3: West Side Story (1961)

#3: West Side Story (1961)

Dir: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
#4: Manhattan (1979)

#4: Manhattan (1979)

Dir: Woody Allen
#5: The Graduate (1967)

#5: The Graduate (1967)

Dir: Mike Nichols
#6: Tootsie (1982)

#6: Tootsie (1982)

Dir: Sydney Pollack
#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Dir: Irvin Kershner
#9: Star Wars (1977)

#9: Star Wars (1977)

Dir: George Lucas
#10: The Exorcist (1973)

#10: The Exorcist (1973)

Dir: William Friedkin
#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Dir: Peter Jackson
#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

Dir: Martin Scorsese
#13: Annie Hall (1977)

#13: Annie Hall (1977)

Dir: Woody Allen
#14: Vertigo (1958)

#14: Vertigo (1958)

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Dir: Steven Spielberg
#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson
#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Dir: Tobe Hooper
#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

Dir: Frank Capra
#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Dir: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
#20: Zodiac (2007)

#20: Zodiac (2007)

Dir: David Fincher