Boyhood (2014)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on January 15, 2015 @ tonymacklin.net.

I've tried to avoid reviewing Boyhood, but the raves - like locusts - keep coming.

Since it's awards season, I guess I should step up.

Boyhood didn't move me. In fact, it seemed inert.

Boyhood: Concept: A Execution: C --

Boyhood is more sociological study than work of art. Maybe that's why it has appealed so much to so many reviewers. Maybe they're all products of broken homes. Maybe they love Texas. [It's about growing up in Texas.] Boyhood may be Chris Christie's favorite film.

Maybe Marshall McLuhan's theory the "medium is the message" has prevailed with Boyhood.

The major accomplishment of Boyhood is that it was made over a 12-year span with the characters and actors actually growing older. That's a formidable achievement. But that's not an end in itself. Is the life interesting? Are the characters interesting? Is the dialogue convincing and revealing?

"Willie Shakespeare here: in Boyhood, 'What's up?' That is the question."

Personally, I relate to Jerome David Salinger's Holden - trying to grow up in a world in which phoniness prevails. I admire Truffaut's portrait of youth, though I relate more to its humanity than its actuality.

Director/writer Richard Lint-in-navel-Later's portrait of Mason (Ellard Coltrane) leaves me uninvolved. I don't relate to Boyhood. I think I'm relieved that I don't. It's a generic portrait.

I'm not sure Boyhood has a single memorable scene. It has more than a few rote ones: a boy pissing outdoors on smouldering ashes, an old man giving a rifle to a youth - in Texas, imagine that, a husband bullying his wife and children, and myriad superficial conversations.

One wonders what Kubrick would have done with these people. They certainly wouldn't be exalted by viewers.

The dialogue seems improvised, although Linklater insists it's not. When the mother (Patricia Arquette) calls to Mason driving away with his father (Ethan Hawke), "I'm so glad you were born" - if it wasn't improvised - one wonders how it survived the editing process.

There's awful dialogue in a scene of boys camping in a deserted house. It's a clumsy scene.

One of Mason's teachers in a school darkroom says to him, "Art - that's special. What can you bring to it that nobody else can?" Good question.

Later another teacher approaches Mason before he's going to college, and says, "it's voluptuous panic." Then she says, "Remember to floss." Voluptuous flossing?

Mason's mother's last line to him is, "I just thought there would be more."

Me, too.

Perhaps I could just listen to Peggy Lee.

Mason says to a girl, "Words are stupid," but he keeps on using them.

The characters draw on some of the experiences that Linklater and his actors had in their lives.

Most of the actors are adequate, but the only one who has a character with layers is Mason's dad. Ethan Hawke makes Dad engaging and edgy. The scenes he's in come to life. But there's a random quality to them.

The scenes with Dad in a car talking with his children are the best in the film.

We're living in an age of instagrams and selfies. Tiresome people being tiresome.

I've never been a fan of home movies or reality tv shows.

Richard Linklater is here. Turn down the living room lights.

I'm out of here.

© 2000-2017 Tony Macklin