I don’t know if the filming-over-11-years gimmick made this happen, or if it was just Richard Linklater’s sensibility, but Boyhood avoided just about every coming-of-age cliché it possibly could. And let’s be clear: the 11 years of filming was a gimmick. That’s not a knock – I love gimmicks. You just gotta commit to them. And the very nature of this gimmick required commitment.
There are so many moments in Mason Evans, Jr.’s boyhood that seem like they are heading towards the typical melodramatic formula of getting into trouble, followed by confrontations, and then tearful apologies. Take, for example, Mason drinking beer in his friend’s family cabin, or watching porn with his stepbrother. These are things that could get him into trouble, but instead, they are just things that happen. These moments are typical of most boys’ lives. What is important in portraying them is how each particular boy experiences them. This extended filmmaking technique proves to be a successful experiment in exploring these moments as they pertain to the meaning of growing up. A decade on one project has led to wonderfully internalized character work, resulting in one-of-a-kind performances from Ellar Coltrane (Mason), Patricia Arquette (Mason’s mom), Ethan Hawke (Mason, Sr.), and Lorelei Linklater (Mason’s sister).
Boyhood Movie Review Rating: A-
Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.