Boyhood: The 12 Year Movie

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Movie Reviews

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There’s a critically acclaimed new flick that’s doing the big city rounds, which will probably go nationwide sometime soon.  And no, it’s not some oddly unconventional art-house flick, it’s nothing particularly unique at all.  But the story they tell, is literally, a twelve-year, childhood-encompassing tale in under three hours.  One cast.  The movie is a masterpiece, in an innovatively breakthrough, yet still perfectly conventional sense.  An unabridged, younger, more delightful, kind of Shawshank Redemption… and it’s pretty damn hard to beat The Shawshank Redemption.

Director Richard Linklater and team brought a singular cast together with a twelve-year shooting projection.  For the crafty eyes out there; don’t get caught up in trying to figure out when their ages jump from one scene to another, it’s just way too long of a movie.

That’s a hell of a bet to place on a six year old kid, to work one show his entire childhood, banking that he’ll grow into a good actor, let alone the dozen other actors tied in so integrally to the cast… but it was probably the coolest part-time job ever.  And no, Mason Jr’s not the school’s QB, spelling bee champion, the hottest kid or even the fattest.  He’s just a regular boy living in Texas, going through his parents’ divorce and lots of house hopping.

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The film’s universal appeal comes from their headline alone (the long-term approach to filming), as everyone’s intrigued ­­­­when they hear about this, but it’s real effectiveness is because just about anyone in the world can intimately connect to their world and find themselves in one of the characters, at one stage of the story or another.  Any classic music album probably carries a different meaning and weight while listening to it, from one decade to the next of one’s life, a rare quality that Boyhood flourishes in.

There’s enough personal conflict in his life, plus any of those around him in life, that the film has the ultimate demographic of, quite literally, everyone.  In reality, this kid just lived a quasi- Truman Show life, and now we get to see it in one (relatively) short movie.

It makes me wonder what the next film to repeat the approach will be.  Who knows, someone’s probably filming it right now.  It’s definitely an extended, longer-form approach I’d like to attempt someday (for the inevitable PBS of the film industry), but it’s hard to imagine how else it would be done, with than on any other kind of tale they did here.  Coming of age and “growing up” in general is at the heart of many of our greatest stories, but this time, that is the story.  Nothing else I can imagine warrants such project and endeavor of this scale… but that’s certainly an idea to brew on.

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I got a kick out of the lead girl, actually the director’s daughter, who steals the show through most of their early childhood.  But then puberty hits and boom, show’s over, total 180.  This new  “whatever” personality kind of derails her story, which could have been a bit more entertaining.  Although, maybe it was there before; I’d imagine they could have cut a five-hour version of this film and still had plenty left over for a blooper reel.

Boyhood’s definitely one to see.   A theatrical viewing is mandatory to have a total appreciation for a kind of work at this scale.  I hope to see another one like it someday, but I realize that may take a very, very long time.

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