Sunday, August 14, 2016

Now on Netflix: Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood movie poster
Boyhood (2014) - Written and Directed by Richard Linklater; Starring Eller Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater.

By Kenny Howell

I feel like there is a movie each year that I end up arguing against even though I like it.

The reason is that there is almost unanimous praise for that film that it may be the best, or one of the top films of the year, up there with the elite. And sometimes, I just don't agree.

That is what I feel about Boyhood. I love the idea behind it, and I love the big things Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some) wants to achieve with it. It took him 12 years to make this film because he wanted to see these characters age over these 12 years, grow as people, and see how time affects us. I think it's a grand idea for a filmmaker, and there are times when it works really well. But there is something missing. I never found that emotional core.

Linklater's main character is Mason (Eller Coltrane), who we meet when he is 6 years old. His parents are split up, his dad kind of not ready to take the responsibility having a kid demands. His mother played by Patricia Arquette in an Oscar winning performance, is doing all the right things, going to school, trying to better herself and leave a better life for her kids. Problem is she has bad choices in men, and she keeps bringing abusive men into her children's lives. Mason also has a sister, Samantha, which is played by Linklater's daughter, Lorelei.

The movie is episodic, giving you pieces of Mason's life as he grows over the years. We see him develop his personality, go through his awkward young teenage years, be a teen who thinks he is it all figured out, find a first love, develop his talent, all the things we do as children. Despite that, I never really got pulled into Mason's story. Maybe it is the episodic nature, maybe it is Coltrane, who plays Mason. Whatever it is, I never got connected with Mason, and that is a problem for a coming of age film.

There are moments where the film works extremely well, and those usually include Ethan Hawke (Regression). Despite his faults, Hawke's father character does have a good connection to his son, and good intentions to go along with it. He tries hard, despite himself, to raise the best kid he can. And when we witness that, Boyhood soars. Those parts are not enough to make it won of the best pictures of 2014, but it is definitely one to admire.

Boyhood is currently streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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