Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Movie: Boyhood

I love director Richard Linklater's "Before" series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) which introduces a young couple in their 20s who have a chance meeting on a train, and then revisits their lives and relationships ten years later, and again ten years after that.  Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were in their 20s when filming Before Sunrise and aged real-time with their characters in each subsequent movie.

Linklater's newly released movie, Boyhood, takes this concept to the next extreme.  With scenes filmed annually over a period of 12 years, Boyhood follows the life of Mason who ages (along with child actor Ellar Coltrane) from 5 through 18.  While films usually portray time lapses through makeup or use of different actors, in this case we watch this boy as he naturally ages and grows into a young man.  At the same time, the supporting cast including Ethan Hawke (obviously a favourite collaborator with Linklater) as the absentee father, Patricia Arquette as the single mother and Linklater's own daughter Lorelei as sister Samantha also appear throughout the movie and age year by year along side of Mason.

The concept would be merely gimmicky if Linklater was not such a strong writer of naturalistic dialogue, as he also proved in the "Before" series, which all featured lengthy conversations between the two protagonists. Boyhood provides glimpses of different stages of Mason's childhood, as you literally watch him grow up on film.  Sometimes the annual aging is so subtle that you only realize there has been a time-jump because Mason has a new hairstyle.

Based on previous family dramas, there were multiple points in the movie where one has been programmed to expect some sensational event such as a car crash, drug overdose, or teen pregnancy to occur.  There is none of that.  Other than a few episodes with drunken step-fathers, nothing overly dramatic happens.  And yet, despite a 2 hour and 45 minute running time, for some reason the movie is riveting and you are totally invested in the lives of this boy and his family.

The unique concept and directorial challenges in making this movie over such a long period of time make Linklater a favourite for Oscar contention, although its July release does seem a bit early for Oscar season.  Hopefully it will not be forgotten in the fall when the other challengers flood the theatres. 

1 comment:

MIELLOUX said...