Boyhood (2014)

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It’s one of the most critically acclaimed film of 2014, receiving a grand total of 6 Oscar nominations and 1 win for Patricia Arquette in Best Supporting Actress. The film is also famous for its 12 years shoot, which I have to admit sounded pretty gimmicky to me, but I’ll elaborate more on that later. Boyhood basically tells the life story of Mason, a boy from a broken family and his journey from childhood to college.

Boyhood, like pretty much every film in the world, has its share of haters and also its share of fans. Personally, I didn’t really connect to it as much as I’d have liked to, which is strange considering that I usually love these “slow and boring” films about life. If I’m being completely honest, I feel like I have seen European films that have done a better job at capturing these slices of life moments, including Two Days, One Night, which certainly didn’t take 12 Years to shoot. I agree, there were some thoughtful moments here and there that I was moved by (namely Ethan Hawke’s scenes), and I could actually empathise with the main character throughout the whole film despite Ellar Coltrane’s increasingly underwhelming performance. But at the end of the day, the dialogue still feels very movie-ish, if you get what I mean, and man, the acting by some of the cast members can be pretty laughable.

That being said, I liked that the 12 years shoot actually did give the film a sense of continuity. The characters did age in front of my eyes, and the pacing of the film is pretty well done. I never felt it was rushed or haphazardly done, and it does feel like a life journey. Like I said, Ethan Hawke’s performance was very moving and he really showed how the character grew from the good-for-nothing dad to a responsible father. Patricia Arquette was fine. I have to confess that I don’t love her performance as much as the awards clearly do, although I suspect I could be missing something. Her final monologue was good, but it wasn’t enough and somehow I felt like I wanted more from her. Still, she was pretty good.

It’s not a film I particularly enjoyed, and to be honest some moments were pretty boring and unnecessary (But hey, I guess that’s life!). The segment with the alcoholic stepfather was weirdly out of place, but I guess it was to illustrate Olivia’s “bad life choices”. On one hand, I’m glad they didn’t drag out what could have been a painfully depressing segment, but on the other hand, it flew by so fast that it barely registered in my head. I guess I can understand what Richard Linklater was going for: to portray the way life flies and how each moment is transient in nature. Still, I can respect the effort and understand the love for it, but alas, I’m not one of them. I’m feeling lenient so I’m going for 3.5/5, but it’s more towards a 3. I guess I’m too “shallow” for it.

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