The Oscar buzz thus far has Patricia Arquette with her, and the rest of the cast’s, boring moments in time, in Boyhood a favorite to get some sort of gong come award time. The film was made over a 12 year time period and used the same actors over said filming period. The audience get watch an entire fictional family grow up together. This is a real slice of Americana where one “family” is put under the spotlight and viewers are treated to the warts and all vantage point of observer in this rather mundane look at a family’s son and his journey up to leaving the nest and striking out on his own.
Written and directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood is not this filmmakers first shot at depicting a “real time” film. His trilogy of “Before” movies starring Ethan Hawke, who is also in his latest offering, and Julie Delpy are two people who first meet in the 1995 film Before Sunrise in this revisiting tale and is a forerunner of sorts to Boyhood‘s theme. The next two features in the trilogy Before Sunset(2004) and Before Midnight (2013) then complete what could be called an elongated and modern version of the 1945 Noel Coward romance Brief Encounter.
Certainly the idea of following the chronological development of a fictional family and filming it over a 12 year time period with the same actors is novel enough to raise the odd eyebrow. However, Boyhood, like the earlier “Before” trilogy, feels like a variation of sorts on The Truman Show. While Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke with their boring moments in time are not a remake on the Jim Carrey vehicle, it is not hard to see that the idea of filming one boy’s life and his family’s was influenced by the three time Oscar nominated film.
The idea of watching two youngsters grow up on film feels more like watching an overlong and slow home movie. The novelty of seeing Elijah Smith as Tommy and Lorelei Linklater as Samantha age on screen from the round faced little urchins they are at the beginning soon palls with the everyday mundacity of family life. There is nothing new here, it is a collection of snapshots in the lives of one extended family, Mom remarried twice, Dad once and while he starts a new family, she sticks with the two kids she has and does feel the need to procreate further.
If the idea of seeing a woman with a penchant for choosing alcoholic abusive men to be the father figure for her two children fills the viewer with chills, then the film will not disappoint. At 165 minutes, Boyhood drags and the fact that it really is about everyday lifetime events makes this movie something to be streamed or rented, or even better, waiting for this to come on telly, although with commercial breaks this could become an exercise in torture.
The very end of Boyhood, has Patricia Arquette having an epiphany after 165 minutes of boring moments in time. Sadly this sudden vision of clarity is not that she has very poor judgement in picking partners. At the same time, her son Tommy, who the film centers upon, also has a personal epiphany. Unfortunately by this time the audience do not care as nothing in this film, apart from Linklater’s preferred method of using the same actors over a 12 year period, really stands out. For this type of entertainment, viewers can stay home and watch their own family. Available for purchase at the moment, prepare to wait for a network to air it on television.
By Michael Smith