Saturday movie review: 'Boyhood'

Though I fancy myself fairly up on movie news, I must admit I knew nothing about BOYHOOD when I first started seeing myriad accolades and positive posts on the film filling my social network streams. I was never compelled enough to click in the posts, though, so I learned from them only that Ethan Hawke was involved, it apparently took a very long time to make, and that it was really, really good.

BOYHOOD movie poster 

Last weekend when rain was forecast for most of Sunday, I mentioned to my husband that we should go see a matinee of BOYHOOD to fill the gray day. Now, my husband is a good sport and regularly agrees to see pretty much any movie I want to see. Still, I thought he deserved at least a glimpse of it rather than merely depending on my "I keep hearing good things about it" spiel. Plus, I wanted to see a trailer myself.

So I accessed one and we watched:

Yep, that glimpse of Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD intrigued us. We've always enjoyed Ethan Hawke. We liked Patricia Arquette in the series Medium. We looked forward to seeing a 12-year time lapse of the two while watching two youngsters — Ellar Coltrane as Mason and Lorelei Linklater as his older sister Samantha — literally grow up on the screen. The concept seemed to guarantee an interesting, different afternoon at the theater. (And it was an afternoon as the movie has a 164-minute run time.)

We went. We enjoyed. Immensely.

BOYHOOD turned out to be even far more engaging and moving than we thought it might be, despite its length. In fact, I think we'd have happily sat through even more. Because the filming began more than 12 years ago, the fictional coming-of-age film served as an enjoyable nostalgic time capsule in myriad ways: the fashion, music, lingo, tech (and non-tech) ways of each period.

We especially enjoyed seeing those kiddos grow up (Mason goes from age 5 to 18), struggle through the challenges of a broken family, come into their own, simply being real. So many of the family moments, the interchanges between parent and child, reminded me of moments not only with my own children, but moments from my own youth.

The understated acting by the entire cast of BOYHOOD continually impressed me, moved me. And their commitment to the long time it took to make such an extraordinary film continues to impress me. Twelve years? Who the heck commits to such a long-term project? And how did Linklater know Hawke and Arquette would truly stick with it, much less the kids. (Though, as Samantha was played by his daughter, I suppose that was pretty much guaranteed.)

BOYHOOD is an intimate look at a growing family — growing together, growing apart, growing up — that will stick with me a long time. It's interesting to imagine how long such an experience will stick with the director and cast as well as the manner of empty nest issues the adults might be left with now that it's over. 

Gag reels are often a highly anticipated extra feature of films, but I find myself more and more (is it age?) especially appreciating the deeper kinds of featurettes that often accompany films of late. Such as this one for BOYHOOD:

BOYHOOD (rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use) opened in theaters July 18 and has already earned several award nominations. Find out more on the official movie website.