It’s an amazing idea, so I expected amazing things.
Boyhood took 12 years to film so that they could use the same actors playing the roles in a family, with the focus being on Mason, the son, who begins as a six year old and ends as an 18 year old high school graduate. It is an incredibly ambitious idea that has all kinds of potential, but falls a bit short of expectation. The novelty and the character development are both there, and all the actors are in good form, but the plot is a little flat. In fairness, I’ve never been a fan of Richard Linklater, finding many of his movies to be masterfully mundane. I know that many would not agree with me.
And yet there was enough there to keep me interested for the full length of the film, at just under 3 hours. And that’s quite a feat in itself. The family issues and the adolescent milestones are reasonably well portrayed, and the viewer is more invested in them because we’ve seen the boy grow up right in front of our eyes. But there’s nothing terribly notable in the whole thing. I kept thinking to myself that they could have done more with it. It doesn’t help that the character of the boy is relatively introverted and quiet. This gives rise to some interesting introspection and philosophy of life, especially with the somber, straight laced, psychologist mother on one side and the fly by night, wild father on the other. Watching these characters develop over the 12 years is a sidebar in itself. Also interesting is to see the technology and music imbedded in the film evolve over that period.
I was definitely of two minds about the film. On one hand I really enjoyed it, to the point that I might even watch it a second time. On the other hand it has Linklater’s brand of trying to glorify the ordinary, albeit this time with a unique twist.
I would give the move a B+ (with the plus stemming from the novety)