Mason (Ellar Coltrane) at three different ages in Boyhood.

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) at three different ages in Boyhood.

Reel Reviews: Portrait of childhood meanders in Boyhood

The film Boyhood, like life, meanders all over the place, with subtle highs and meagre lows.

  • Sep. 24, 2014 7:00 p.m.

Brian Taylor

For The Morning Star

Boyhood, the latest and perhaps greatest film from self-taught, indie guru Richard Linklater (School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly) is an unremarkable tale, told in an extremely unique fashion.

Filmed over 12 years with the same actors, Boyhood tells the saga of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of six to 18.

Every couple of years, the filmmakers would gather together the cast of characters to film the next instalment. We get to watch Mason grow up and change as he does, along with his sister (Linklater’s daughter Lorelei) and their parents, played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke.

Being filmed over such a long period of time creates a fascinating time capsule approach to the film and the fact that Linklater was able to produce the film for $2.4 million is commendable.

However, the film, like life, meanders all over the place, with subtle highs and meagre lows. It’s not that the film is exactly dull, but I kept waiting for something to happen that never came.

Mom (Arquette), at one point near what would normally be the climax of the story, points out to her son as he is about to leave home that she “thought there would be more, you know?” She’s referring to her own life and it’s lack of “something special” in it.

I think the same could be said of the film.

There’s not anything wrong with the film, it is artistically and technically well executed. The soundtrack, as usual for a Linklater film, is rich and poignant. The maturation of the characters as the film plods along provides an interesting vehicle for a rather pedestrian plot.

It seems to have been enough for audiences and other film reviewers, Boyhood scores high. But I think I’ve already seen this film, in the mirror, stretched over a longer period of time. Highlights of my childhood would have seemed very similar, perhaps even more dramatic. So I applaud the film’s brave methodology, I just wish Mason’s boyhood had been a little more interesting.

– I give Boyhood 3 stars out of 5.

The film is currently playing at Vernon’s Towne Cinema.

Brian Taylor is a film reviewer based in Vernon, B.C. He and Peter Howe write regular film reviews for The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.