Boyhood is up for multiple awards this year including Best Picture, Best Lead Actress and Best Director among a few others. It was filmed in a unique way in order to better fit the story of the main characters growth from adolescence into being an adult while following the same actor. The film was shot over twelve years but only in a short time frame of two weeks. It is a very different way for a film to be shot but it works really well in this instance. Director Richard Linklater hired actors that he had a working relationship with over the years, most notably being Ethan Hawke. In fact, the two have previously worked on three films together in the process of making Boyhood. The actors clearly had plenty of chemistry together which bodes well for a film that is incredibly relatable.
The plot follows a young boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his dysfunctional family. His single mother, (Patricia Arquette), fell in love at a young age with Mason's father (Ethan Hawke) which led to him and his sister's birth. The two however did not last long and Dad left to pursue a career in music while dabbling in recreational drug use leaving Mom to raise young Mason and Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) on her own. Mom struggles mightily making ends meet and raising the kids in a crowded home. Occasionally, the kids get to see their father as he takes them out to a ball game and lets them listen to a new song he had made solely for his kids. Over the course of Mason's childhood, he observes his Mom make mistakes with abusive men and the troubles of a broken home.
Boyhood is a solid film, but it still surprises me that it is up for so many awards this season. I understand that the way it was filmed will obviously bring more attention to it, but it still has it's own faults. Most notably, it goes on for far too long and the middle part of the film slows it down almost to a full stop. However, the heart of the film is just how relatable it is. Any child that has seen their parents break up and pieced together the faults of their own parents can easily relate to it on a personal level while instantly feeling for the characters. For me, the parts that really resonated with me were the moments between Mason and his father as those scenes also carried the most weight. In that fact alone, it is a film that will tug and pull on your heart. Linklater sadly tries to hard at certain points to make it too realistic and as a result it hurts the film more than helps it.
Linklater benefited from two actors that fit perfectly in their roles as the independent but slightly misguided mother played by Patricia Arquette and the outgoing father with a good intentions played by Ethan Hawke. Arquette and Hawke gave both parts a sense of credibility and they owned their respective roles. Arquette's character at times could be found as annoying, but she was simply a mother doing her best to make ends meet even though at times her decisions hurt her children. Hawke's character, on the other hand, was immediately likeable even though you got the sense that you shouldn't. You knew that in someway he had to have hurt the mother of his children so bad that they wouldn't even entertain the notion of getting back together for the children. There was a lot said about his character in simple subtext, which is great work by Linklater and Hawke. Again, Hawke's scenes resonated with me more than that of Arquette's due to how much more personable he was and how he changed over the course of the film for the better. Ellar Coltrane did an admirable job as the young and grown Mason. I am sure it helped that over the course of filming that things his character had gone through mirrored things he had experienced in his day to day life which allowed his character to come to life in an easier manner. In particular, it was nice to see him go from a mild-mannered soft spoken child to a world weary and lost man trying to find his place in the world. Overall, it is a well done film but set with a few flaws that make me a bit reluctant to possibly award it as the Best Picture of the Year.
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