Boyhood (2014)

(On Cable TV, August 2015) It would be tempting to criticize Boyhood’s endless digressions, hefty running time and scattershot plotting, but that would be missing the point of the film.  Famously filmed over twelve years, Boyhood is about the little moments of early life – the dumb conversations with friends, the visits to church, the breakups and the trips and the fights and the dress-downs and the ways lives changes.  Even as Boyhood grinds to a halt for family parties, philosophical digressions and daily minutia, there is a poignant resonance here with everyone’s universal experiences.  Despite my uneventful early years as far away from Texas as possible, I could certainly find flashes of similarities between my boyhood and moments of the film.  Boyhood lives in the interstices of other flashier stories, and there’s something almost profound in the way it combines the very intimate with the epic sweep of a twelve-year story in which the protagonist visibly matures before our eyes.  The cultural references are amusing (albeit liable to make older audiences reflect on the passage of time as in “was that twelve/ten/eight years ago already?”)  Acting-wise, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette provide welcome anchors of continuity, which somehow becomes more and more important as Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater do a great job aging twelve years in nearly three hours.  It doesn’t take much to zone out during Boyhood (perhaps evoking the first image of the film, reflected on the poster) as the film effortlessly puts us in a reflective mood, thinking about our lives and how they go on, one small moment after another.  Unique in scope, Boyhood is another small triumph for iconoclast director Richard Linklater, once again doing fascinating things with cinema.

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