Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Gaspar Noé's List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense Gaspar Noé's List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense Jon Hamm Wants You to Know There's Hope for Don Draper After 'Mad Men' Jon Hamm Wants You to Know There's Hope for Don Draper After 'Mad Men' Women Fight Back at Cannes, From Megan Ellison to Emily Blunt Women Fight Back at Cannes, From Megan Ellison to Emily Blunt Of Time & Life: How 'Mad Men' Remade Television Of Time & Life: How 'Mad Men' Remade Television Nikki Finke Returns Nikki Finke Returns Cannes Goes Crazy for Jeremy Saulnier's Gruesome Neo-Nazis vs. Punks Horror 'Green Room' Cannes Goes Crazy for Jeremy Saulnier's Gruesome Neo-Nazis vs. Punks Horror 'Green Room' Cannes Festival Is Dominated by Two Hollywood Masters Cannes Festival Is Dominated by Two Hollywood Masters Top Ten Takeaways: Sequels Rule as Women Boost 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Also Strong Top Ten Takeaways: Sequels Rule as Women Boost 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Also Strong Cannes: Directors from Fincher to Scorsese Revisit Truffaut's Famous Interview with Hitchcock Cannes: Directors from Fincher to Scorsese Revisit Truffaut's Famous Interview with Hitchcock 'Pitch Perfect 2' Outperforms 'Mad Max: Fury Road'; 'Ultron' Is Now Top 2015 Release 'Pitch Perfect 2' Outperforms 'Mad Max: Fury Road'; 'Ultron' Is Now Top 2015 Release Kristen Stewart Re-Teams with Her 'Sils Maria' Director for Ghost Story Set in Fashion World Kristen Stewart Re-Teams with Her 'Sils Maria' Director for Ghost Story Set in Fashion World Watch: Netflix's Ted Sarandos Heckled at Cannes, Gets Weinstein on His Feet During Heated Debate (VIDEO) Watch: Netflix's Ted Sarandos Heckled at Cannes, Gets Weinstein on His Feet During Heated Debate (VIDEO) George Miller and DP John Seale Go Inside 'Mad Max: Fury Road': "It Was Like Being in a Video Game" George Miller and DP John Seale Go Inside 'Mad Max: Fury Road': "It Was Like Being in a Video Game" Natalie Portman's Passion Project 'Tale of Love and Darkness' Splits Cannes Critics Natalie Portman's Passion Project 'Tale of Love and Darkness' Splits Cannes Critics Cannes: 'Dogtooth' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Scores with Surreal, Macabre 'The Lobster' (Review and Roundup) Cannes: 'Dogtooth' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Scores with Surreal, Macabre 'The Lobster' (Review and Roundup) Weinstein Co. Offers Strong Slate at Cannes Weinstein Co. Offers Strong Slate at Cannes 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Auteur George Miller Does It His Way, No Matter How Long It Takes 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Auteur George Miller Does It His Way, No Matter How Long It Takes The Top 20 Episodes of 'Mad Men' The Top 20 Episodes of 'Mad Men' How the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' How the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A)

SXSW Review: Linklater's 'Boyhood' a Slice of American Pie as We've Never Tasted Before

Thompson on Hollywood By Tom Christie | Thompson on Hollywood March 7, 2014 at 1:27PM

Sometimes you want to say, simply, go see this movie, and leave it at that. Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," which debuted at Sundance and won two Berlinale prizes, is such a film. Now headed for SXSW, it's ingenious: Shot over the course of 12 years using the same actors -- Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the estranged and then divorced parents of a girl, Samantha (Linklater's own daughter Lorelei), and the eponymous boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) -- "Boyhood" follows the family through many ups and downs.
1
'Boyhood'
'Boyhood'

Sometimes you want to say, simply, go see this movie, and leave it at that. Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," which debuted at Sundance and won two Berlinale prizes, is such a film. Now headed for SXSW, it's ingenious: Shot over the course of 12 years using the same actors -- Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the estranged and then divorced parents of a girl, Samantha (Linklater's own daughter Lorelei), and the eponymous boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) -- "Boyhood" follows the family through many ups and downs, from when Mason is about six until he leaves for college.

As with Linklater's celebrated "Before" triptych, you watch the actors age over time and you can't help but feel that you are growing with them. As in that series, Hawke grows on you (pun may or may not be intended) as he matures, but like his character, he's less there than Arquette, who runs the house as best she can. Actually, by the end of the movie, she and the kids are on their fourth or fifth house, usually due to some less than happy reasons. That is to say, her husbands, whose initial good natures sour with time and alcohol.

"Boyhood"'s plotting is too detailed and banal to relate. Linklater says he wanted to present the life of a normal family, not an extraordinary one, and so there are the money issues, the schools, the friends, the relatives, the haircuts, the awkward stages, the camping trips, and conversation after conversation after conversation. The "Before" films are known for their repartee, but the dialogue is better here, less arch, more realistic. 

I don't know if it was always Linklater's intention to call the film "Boyhood," if it was a way of telling his story, or if it just became clear over time that it was really Mason's story -- or Ellar's story, so strong does this kid/young man become over the course of the film. The entire cast is excellent, but perhaps it makes sense, given the alchemy inherent in this long project, that a filmmaker of such vision and sensitivity as Linklater has developed a young actor of uncommon gifts and charisma. 

Uncommon gift is as good as any way to describe "Boyhood." It's a slice of American pie as we've never tasted it before. At nearly three hours long, it could perhaps benefit from some trimming, particularly for its international release -- a German acquaintance thought so -- yet despite the extraordinary passage of time it never really felt slow or tedious or too long. When it was finally time for Mason to leave for college, and his mother burst into tears, I also felt that wonderful/terrible mix of sadness and pleasure and hope -- at the childhood left behind and the promise of opportunities ahead. Just like real life.

This article is related to: Richard Linklater, Richard Linklater, Berlin International Film Festival, Reviews, Festivals, Boyhood, SXSW, South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW)


E-Mail Updates






Festivals on TOH