[twitter]Disclaimer: I’ve only watched half of Boyhood, the epic project from Richard Linklater that was a Golden Globe darling and is receiving much Oscar hype.
The movie received an incredible perfect score on Metacritic, a website that aggregates movie reviews. That puts it on par with Lawrence of Arabia, the Wizard of Oz, and The Godfather. Rotten Tomatoes ranks it as 98% fresh, another ringing endorsement.
The scope of the project is incredible. Linklater set out, over 12 years, to shoot a movie about a boy’s life using the same cast throughout. They’d meet once a year or so, shoot some scenes, and then put the work on the shelf. The project started in 2002, and was released in the summer of 2014.
The trailer and concept had me hooked from the getgo.
So that’s the backstory the hype is being hung on. That alone is worthy of all the praise Linklater is receiving. It’s a wonderful idea for a movie. Provided you have a script worth hanging it on, and a cast worth watching.
Boyhood is nearly 3 hours of life. That’s it. Just life. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette turn in great performances as separated parents doing their best at life, but the kids, cast when they were just 6 or 7, are unwatchable. Their performances are wooden, their characters lacking any depth, some of the early scenes forcefully constructed.
And there’s no script. Each scene shot at a new age has some kitschy nod to the year it was shot. Tamagotchis at the dinner table, Nintendo DS in the back seat, news of the Iraq war, Bush v Obama, etc. Many appear ad libbed, do little to move any story along, and seem to exist just to capture a pop culture hook as if to say “See! We shot this scene in 2006! Col, huh?”
Lori (aka Mommyfriend) saw it last week and had been raving about it in her stream. “It tugs at your heart big time,” she sighed in one comment. The friendly endoresement pushed me past the tipping point and I rented it on iTunes to watch it for my flight with Team Diabetes to Bermuda. I started it, and never finished.
Like I said, I’ve seen about half of Boyhood. I let my 48hr iTunes rental window expire without getting to the end. Boyhood is a terrible movie hung on a great idea. It’s all set up and no payoff. Nothing happens in the movie other than small vignettes of what life is like for a mom, dad, brother, and sister. There are some great fatherhood moments between Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane, but for the most part, absolutely nothing happens.
Which, perhaps, it what’s supposed to happen. This is a movie about life. Life happens, the movie happens. Sometimes there’s a point, sometimes there isn’t.
“Nothing. Happens. Except life,” commented Amanda Bates in my Facebook rant. “And I’d rather have been living my own, than watching that film! Brilliant idea. Rubbish content.”
“It is one of my favourite movies from 2014,” Kimberly Cook contrasted. “It is subtle and true to how life is.”
“The only thing that makes it worth watching is the idea of it,” Shannon Hilton perfectly summarized.
I don’t consider myself to be a pedestrian movie goer. I don’t do popcorn flicks, I can appreciate the beauty, artistry, and awkward storytelling in a film like Grand Budapest Hotel. Still I couldn’t get my brain around the point of Boyhood. The subtlety left me empty and an unfinished film in my queue.
See it or Skip it?
It’s $5 to rent Boyhood on iTunes. That’s a fair price to watch the first bit and see the intrigue of a cast growing up on screen. The script, performances, direction, and plot, are not enough to get you through the whole thing. Boyhood is terrible. Skip it.