BOYHOOD [2014] movie review – recommended

November 9, 2014 · Print This Article

Almost 20 years ago I watched my first Richard Linklater movie, BEFORE SUNRISE, then the next day I watched the movie again I was that amazed by it.  The biggest compliment I think you can give a movie director is to say he/she has a signature style that is totally evident on screen.  Linklater definitely does, and I am a fan of his signature style, and it is on display throughout BOYHOOD [2014].  In addition to that, the movie features the same actors reprising their roles every few years as a boy grows from age 5 to age 15 over the course of 165 minutes.  This is no gimmick, it is amazing.

BOYHOOD is not some romanticized look at childhood full of wonder and awe.  It is often, and perhaps too often, a stiff slap in the face showing how hard it is to grow up in an unstable family situation.  Mason gets teased by his older sister as they share a room at age 5, then she fakes being the one hurt when their mom comes in.  Mason gets scolded, and not for the last time in his life.  However, though the movie is called boyhood, his sister plays a large role and gives a great performance too.

Their dad blows back into their life after being gone for a year and a half.  Their mom marries a seemingly great college professor.  This only eventually brings more instability.  This pattern repeats throughout Mason’s life.  Again, he does not grow into a great kid nor an overly bad one, though to me it is shocking how little his mom cares about his drinking and drug use.

The heart of the movie, like all Linklater movies, is in the casual talks two characters have while in each other’s exclusive company.  These get better naturally as Mason gets older.

I cannot say there is any big lesson I got out of BOYHOOD, more just the experience and reminder of what it used to be like to be a boy, to stay up until dawn with a girl talking about this and that craziness, to have the excitement of leaving your home town and going to college always just out of reach until it isn’t.  BOYHOOD ends on a very good note, very well ended.


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