When it comes to reviewing films, the phrase ‘There’s nothing like this’ or ‘It’s completely unique’ is often overused and misused. In Boyhood’s situation, that same phrase is perfectly applicable – there really is nothing quite like Boyhood and it’s concept.
Taking place from 2002 to the present day, the whole cast grow up – literally – before your very own eyes. While the theme of nostalgia is apparent, that’s not the film’s primary focus. Instead, the prominent theme is simply life as a boy growing up (you don’t say…). Its plot is made up of strands – moments in life that can appear mundane and ordinary but when placed together, hold vast amounts of importance. It’s simply amazing and nothing short of a masterpiece in how director Linklater goes about achieving such a moving film – a film that has the power to evoke emotion from the audience just from the concept alone.
The casting choices are superb. There is an obvious amount of risk in choosing a cast that will grow up together over 12 years. Yet every single member is fantastic in the role they play – subtle acts that increase the realism of the film tenfold. Patricia Arquette is incredible as Mason’s mother. Her understated performance where she balances looking after her children with her relationship issues is both contained and touching. The same goes for all of the actors, really – actions that could come across as annoying or illogical are completely natural and can cause certain members of the audience to reminisce with a tear in their eye.
If there are any criticisms that could be made of Boyhood, it’s that a few scenes feel superficial; crammed in to deliver an important message to the audience about life. A scene in a darkroom where Mason’s photography teacher graces him with lessons on life has a facade of importance – but really is all fluff. And while it is touching to watch the smaller moments of the boy’s life, some do come across as a little too mundane and insignificant to serve any fulfilling purpose in the film.
Yet despite its (very few) problems, Boyhood manages to become one of the best films of the year – a powerful character study that focuses not on a particular young boy, but the concept of a boy and his life in general.
– Gus Edgar