boyhood posterIf you pay any attention at all to the hype, you know what an extraordinary project BOYHOOD is. Richard Linklater filmed the movie over the course of 12 years, all to tell the story of one young boy and his journey to adulthood. It seems like a gimmick. Like something that was just done as a goof. “Hey, let’s give this a try”. Well, what you may not know is that it works. It’s not a gimmick. It is a creative decision that transcends the genre. BOYHOOD stars Ellar Coltrane as Mason. We first meet him when he is 6-years-old, lying in the grass at his elementary school. We leave him as he begins to live his life as an adult in college. What falls in between is the story of a life. It’s not a especially remarkable life, at least not yet. It’s not filled with unspeakable tragedy or a lot of joy. But it is life. Life as lived by real people. I kept expecting some huge plot twist, a car accident, a school shooting or some outsized violence. But that isn’t what populates the lives of most people. It is the small things. The things that when put together make up the quilt of who we are. That is what you learn about Mason. How his mother’s failed marriages and his father’s crushed dreams fuel his fire and make up who he is and who he will become. People enter his life. People exit his life. There is one moment of extreme drama involving his mother’s second husband, but that’s it. While that sounds like the stuff of a dull film, just the opposite is true. Linklater’s skill is in making what may sound mundane jump off the screen. By the end of the film, I felt like part of this family and cared what happened to them. In addition to Oscar worthy storytelling and direction, the film features outstanding performances from Coltrane (who grows as an actor through the 12 year cycle), Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. The soundtrack is also fantastic, a musical journey through 12 years of pop music. You may see the running time of 2:45 and hesitate. I know I did. I had recently sat through the 2:40 minute slog that was the latest Transformers movie. Don’t paint these two with the same brush. No way. Not even close. When the film ended, I was amazed at the pacing and how it kept me interested and never once felt slow. Linklater has broken the genre apart and changed filmmaking maybe forever. He deserves at the very least an Oscar nomination for direction, writing and best picture. It’s still early in the year for that kind of prediction, but this is a rare movie that deserves every bit of praise it receives. — Alan Yudman


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