Guest review by my life partner who goes by the pseudonym of "Hermione" on Culture Vultures.
Filmmaker Richard Linklater was one of the first batch of independent filmmakers to break out of the scene in the early Nineties with his Generation X movie Slacker, a plot-less film that followed individuals around for one day in Austin, Texas. This movie put him on the ones-to-watch map and from there he went on to make the '70s high-school dramedy Dazed & Confused - which featured a young Matthew McConaughey in his first movie role - and his trifecta series Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight.
Although he has received accolades, nominal film nominations, and minor awards throughout his film career, it is his 2014 magnum opus Boyhood that has attracted the most attention and garnered him major nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay and has appeared on more critics' annual "best-of" lists in 2014 than any other film released that year. But some critics disagree, including me.
Let me preface this review to say I've enjoyed his other work especially his Before series, I feel that this movie was more about the production than the plot. While I give kudos and agree that the actual making of the movie has never been done before, it is this story has been told over and over. Boyhood was shot over a 12 year period from 2002 to 2013 featuring the same cast. It follows the life of character Mason Evans Jr. from his youth until the age of eighteen and chronicles his fictional family's turmoils along the way. Unfortunately, this movie about his lifetime is more akin to a Lifetime movie.
Ellar Coltrane plays the lead role and is surrounded by a cast that includes Linklater's go-to actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette - both whom have acted in his other features - and his own daughter Lorelei Linklater. Although the coming of age movie is based on his character's childhood transition into adulthood, he acts like an observer to his own life rather than an active participant. He let's his life happen to him rather than actively live it.
On the other hand, the other actors give their characters a life of there own even though the story has been told many times over: single mom tries to provide for her family, goes back to school, marries and divorces two drunks, and is the nag while once-a-week "real" dad is the cool one.
Patricia Arquette's role as the mom stands out here and she received an Academy Award nomination for the role and a Golden Globe win for Best Actress. While her character never really grows throughout the twelve years and keeps repeating the same mistakes, at least she is making decisions be them good or bad and it is her physical transformation over the course of the film that captures the scope of the time.
Ethan Hawke plays Ethan Hawke, he is also nominated for his role as Mason Sr. but doesn't bring much to the film other than you understand why the fictional couple never married. He realizes he's not getting any younger and trades in his hot rod for a mini-van and attempts to live his life the way he should have in the first place and by then you just want to smack the snide grin off his face.
Versions of this story can be seen just about any night on any movie on the Lifetime channel. After two hours and forty minutes it seemed like Linklater was unsure on how to conclude the film. It ends abruptly on a psychedelic mushroom induced comment about seizing the moment or letting the moment seize you and living in the moment. All I could think of was how I wasted 165 of my moments watching this movie.
Score: 2/10. Skip it.