It's been a long time since I've actually paid to watch a movie. You could say I've been uninspired.
There hasn't been much that's really caught my eye lately, until I ran across the Facebook page for Boyhood. I'll be honest: the promise of a stellar soundtrack is what drew me in, and since I found myself with some free time this Friday night, I figured why not?
When I got to the ticket counter, the man behind it kindly informed me that the film was around three hours long. That scared me a bit, but I'll tell you: I wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't said anything. Boyhood is the kind of film that kept me engaged the whole way through, which is incredibly rare. Despite being a film studies major, my attention span is actually incredibly short (which is probably why I make and watch YouTube videos instead of feature-length films.)
What's interesting about Boyhood is that it was filmed over the course of twelve years using the same main characters. I just studied Seven Up, a documentary from the 1960's with a similar concept, and I think these two have an awful lot in common. We meet Mason (Ellar Coltrane) when he's just five years old and follow him throughout his high school graduation. Lorelei Linklater, the director's daughter, plays Mason's older sister Samantha, and Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette star as the (slightly dysfunctional) parents.
Mason and Samantha shine in this film. Both actors were completely on point, believable, and interesting. I found Ethan Hawke's character to be quite endearing as well: he plays a chain smoking, guitar-playing father who is rough around the edges but loves his kids deeply. Patricia Arquette is the (mostly) single mother who jumps from toxic relationship to toxic relationship, but through it all manages to graduate college and snag a good job. I wish Arquette's acting was stronger, but the idea of this character was... nice. Overdone, but nice.
The coming-of-age genre is my favorite, and this one did not let me down. Although some of the acting was less-than-stellar, as a whole, I think Boyhood is hard to beat. I cringed at a few overly cheesy lines, but besides that I found the script to be eerily relatable. From dealing with alcoholic parental figures to being critical of Bush's war, I really connected with certain aspects of the film, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. And yes, the soundtrack was everything I dreamt it to be.
With that said, like many others in this genre, this film was pretty predictable and followed a basic path. So what are these films about nothing supposed to teach us?
I'm not sure I have an answer for that. Boyhood was entertaining, it was relatable, and it was endearing. Did it solve any crisis or uncover anything new? No, not really. But I agree with most critics who call it a work of art. It is. It's unique enough to draw you in and beautiful enough to keep you there. Films about nothing encourage us to look inside ourselves and think about what's there. That's what Boyhood did for me, at least.
I haven't seen a movie this good in a really long time, and despite the few awkward moments of awful acting and scripting, I highly recommend it. Don't let the running time scare you away, either. The movie's long, but it's not slow. Huge difference. Go see it. Please.