I went along to the Watershed this afternoon to see “Boyhood”, the much-acclaimed Richard Linklater film – filmed with the same group of actors over a twelve year period (from 2002 to 2013). It’s certainly a remarkable film in terms of its concept and, clearly, the critics have absolutely loved it. For example, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw (whose opinions I value highly) gave it a 5-star rating and described it as “one of the great films of the decade” and Robbie Collin in the Telegraph reckons it was “an achievement of a lifetime” (and also gave it 5 stars).There were indeed some excellent things about the film, such as:
a) I loved the time-lapse study of a boy aged 5 growing into manhood and was genuinely intrigued to see him develop physically (and how the various characters changed/evolved)
b) I liked Mason’s “ordinariness” as a character and the fact that the film wasn’t based on a series of big dramatic set-pieces.
c) The principal family characters were beautifully portrayed.
d) I suspect everyone who sees the film will automatically find themselves reflecting on their own lives (as children, as parents, as siblings…).
e) Very cleverly put together and with beautiful aesthetic consistency.
But (and perhaps I shouldn’t admit this), I actually found the film somewhat tedious, contrived and even banal, at times… at one stage, the “boy” Mason character (played by Ellar Coltrane) mumbled to his birth-father (played by Ethan Hawke) “what’s the point of it all?” and, in some ways, this could be my own reaction to the film.
Why aren’t I raving about the film when, it seems, everyone else is?
Maybe I just found the American way of life depicted rather depressing? Perhaps it was that it didn’t really have a point to make and was simply trying to tell a story of “normal” (whatever that is) family life? Maybe it was because the whole thing was false… real actors in a real time-lapse telling a completely made-up story?
No doubt, I’ll continue to reflect on the film over the coming days but, as things stand, I would only give it three or four stars!
But hey! Don’t let me put you off… afterall, everyone else seems to have enjoyed it!