Boyhood


Richard Linklater's films (my favorites are Before Sunrise and Waking Life) are about transcendent moments, some strung together into a life and others isolated, singular but no less important. His remarkable new film, Boyhood, is a collection of transcendent moments in the life of a Texas kid, Mason, played over the course of the movie's 12 years by Ellar Coltrane, in a performance that will certainly be recognized as special come award season. That Linklater and the principal members of the cast (Coltrane, Patricia Arquette as Mason's mom, Ethan Hawke as his ragtag father and Linklater's own daughter Lorelei as Mason's pain-in-the-ass sister) committed a dozen years to this project is enough to get the attention of serious filmgoers ready to marvel at such a feat and to forgive narrative holes and continuity gaffes. The surprising thing about Boyhood, which opens on a daydreaming 6-year-old Mason and closes with a buzzed and uncharaceristically cogent 18-year-old Mason, is virtually free of such lapses. What an achievement. Because the 2 1/2-hour film tracks Mason's formative years, it is, by necessity, episodic. But the episodes are rich and resonant, funny, frightening, unsettling, sad and always thought-provoking. Yes, the film is about Mason being shaped by the folks in his life -- most of them terribly unhappy people -- and the complex and, understandably, dour and listless young man he seems to become. But it is also about human imperfection. In fact, the film, to me, is about those beautiful imperfections in the people we love and who love us, the imperfections in the moments the universe gives us that can, nonetheless, be satisfying. Very highly recommended.

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