* * * ½
(12-year journey of a family)
The film is titled “Boyhood,” but it could be titled “Boyhood, Sisterhood, Motherhood and Fatherhood,” as it follows the lives of four people for 12 years by filming the same actors as they grow and change. It is a unique undertaking by director Richard Linklater, whose relatives, including young Lorelei Linklater, appear and age along with Ellar Coltrane as Mason Evans.
We first meet Mason as a six-year-old boy, arguing with his older sister and coping with the breakup of his parents’ marriage. We follow Mason through to his entering college, where he has discovered many of the injustices of life while surviving losses, defeats and unwanted advice to the point of asking, “What’s the point?” Linklater’s point is that life does go on in spite of many setbacks, and each person must find his or her own way.
Patricia Arquette is excellent as Mason’s mother, a true survivor who has made some bad choices along the way. The first is marrying an immature man (Ethan Hawke), who leaves to “find himself” in Alaska, returning years later to try to be a good father to kids who see him every other weekend. We found her story as interesting as Mason’s as she marries an abusive, drunken man, leaving him to start over once again, but ending up with another loser.
Samantha is a pain in her brother’s neck during their younger years, but eventually matures and becomes an understanding sibling to her complex brother.
Watching the four characters grow both in the scripted movie and in their own appearances and acting abilities is very interesting
While we learn to like all four characters over a long 2¾ ours, at times the movie feels like a half hour TV show with weekly episodes running together. There is little humor in the film, as the script plays it straight. And there are many times when events happen that may hit close to home.
There are no graphics to tell us that a year or two have passed, with Coltrane showing the most dramatic changes as he goes from immaturity to maturity.
Rated R for some profanity and sexual references, but we would recommend it for mature teens...if they can sit that long.
The director and his cast deserve an A for effort in pulling off this 12-year project.