When I was growing up in Texas back in the 1950s (yes, some people are that old) I remember a joke book called You Can Always Tell a Texan … But Not Very Much, which alludes to the stereotype of the time (and today, where Rick Perry is concerned): the big-mouthed, long-winded braggart who could tell you why everything about Texas was so wonderful, no matter what the subject. Of course, the idea was that we could joke about being superior because we were. Well, a native Texan filmmaker—Richard Linklater—may be well on the road to proving that about his own abilities of tackling a wide variety of topics and approaches in film (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, the Before Sunrise/Sunset/ Midnight ongoing [?] series, Waking Life, School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly, Bernie to name a few), although he doesn’t brag about his wide-ranging-successes (more with critics than at the box-office, admittedly, but like Woody Allen he’s more interested in getting his work out there to be seen than he is in finding himself helming some mega-blockbuster), he just keeps on making them, with the latest, Boyhood, being the most audacious, challenging one yet. Given how much the cinematic-evaluation-brotherhood is fawning over this film (in truly unheard-of numbers: Rotten Tomatoes 99% positive ratings [what a grouch that one guy must be], Metacritic a perfect 100 score [astounding, in that their group usually comes in a bit or a bunch lower than the Tomato pickers]). I think Boyhood’s marvelous also, although not to the level of best of the year/decade/century that some have claimed—at least not yet; check back with me in a few months/years about how it finally stacks up against whatever the rest of the competition may end up being.
The premise is simple: follow a family through 12 years of their lives, with a particular focus on the young son as he goes through his entire elementary, junior high, and high school years. The complicated part comes from using the same actors over that entire time, shooting just a few scenes on an annual basis, with hopes that no disasters occur along the way and that the kids you’ve selected will grow into the sort of screen presence that continues to function once they’ve gotten beyond the cute or precocious stage. Linklater had a reasonable premonition in that direction when casting his own daughter, Lorelei, as the slightly older sister, Samantha, of the boy, Mason Jr., but he really took a chance that Ellar Coltrane would even be someone you’d want to see as he continued through an adolescence that no one could predict back in 2002 (not that this is a 7 Up!-type documentary; Boyhood is scripted, but even there it evolved organically from year to year as Linklater and his actors found appropriate onward directions in a narrative with no great calamities or revelations, just a divorced Mom trying to help her two kids grow into decent people, at least more decent that the guys that she kept choosing as husbands). Be prepared for a lengthy stay at the theatre (about 2:45:00) and no obvious indications as to when one year has departed for the next, but also be prepared for a unique, engaging, extremely well-acted (even though low-key much of the time) experience that should be a consideration when awards season rolls around by the end of this year.
I hope that you’ll read my detailed review. Comments are encouraged and may be left here, at the blog review site, or sent directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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