July 19, 2014 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Richard Linklater's newest film, Boyhood (trailer), breaks new ground by condensing 12 years of filming one cast into a single three-hour film and is receiving almost uniformly glowing reviews. "And yet the story in 'Boyhood' is blissfully simple: A child grows up." (Manohla Dargis, NYT).

Richard Linklater (Director): "But when you think back, the essence of your life is the little stuff, the little things you remember. I'm really counting on the cumulative effect of all this adding up to something, a feeling, an experience, for it to really mirror the ebb and flow of life."

Patricia Arquette ("Olivia"): "When I got to watch the movie my character was watching who he was as a dad, and he was a beautiful dad, and it made me sad we can’t be flies on the wall to see people in their wholeness. That we hold on all these resentments, that maybe we don’t need to."

Ethan Hawke ("Mason Sr."): "That’s the peculiar genius of the movie, and the cumulative effect of it is that by not hitting the 'TV moments,' when the movie ends, you almost feel like you’ve seen every moment of that kid’s life. You intuit all the big ones."

Lorelai Linklater ("Samantha"): "It was very, very, very hard. You really have to dissolve your ego and your vanity. I found it extremely difficult to watch — to have my most awkward stages broadcasted like that. It was very painful."

Ellar Coltrane ("Mason Jr."): "This is the beginning of my life, and that movie is the fucking beacon of that. That was my life for the last 12 years. That’s over. And now, now what?"

Sandra Adair (Editor): "It was like coming back to an old friend, revisiting something in a really terrific way."

Yahoo has documented all the pop culture mile markers by year, and IndieWire has a list of all the music in the film. Variety's Ramin Setoodah demands an Oscar nomination (at least) for Linklater (at least). Other interesting reviews:'s Matt Zoller Seitz. Vulture's David Edelstein. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw.

posted by sallybrown (36 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I am so incredibly excited to see this. Loved the Before... series, and I love the concept of this film. I'm going to avoid any reviews to try to go into this fresh.

Because it is in limited release with a staggered rollout across U.S. theaters, and because I don't mind driving far to see this, I found it hard to find a theatre anywhere near me (Madison, WI) that would be showing it anytime soon. Most movie sites seem to limit searches to ~30 miles or so and are mostly unusable to begin with.

The Boyhood home page theatre page has a decent list of theaters with the dates this movie will appear, if anyone is in a similar spot as me.
posted by rsanheim at 11:43 PM on July 19, 2014

I saw this last week and thought it was brilliant. If you liked Before... I think you'll like this too. There's one scene where Mason Jr. is walking along and talking with a girl who is pushing her bike and it could have been straight out of any one of them.

It would be great if they made a sequel over the next 12 years! As a 28 year old I think that the last 10 years of my life have probably been more interesting and eventful than the 10 before that - even with adolescence/puberty etc.

The captions in the NYT article seem a bit funny with "Mr Coltrane" under a picture of a 10 year old boy!
posted by neilb449 at 12:50 AM on July 20, 2014

I am really looking forward to seeing this. It seems amazing in all the best senses of the word. Looking at the trailer, I couldn't but think of Boy, another movie about, well, growing up. My lens, I know, but I can't but help think of the similarities.
posted by vac2003 at 2:52 AM on July 20, 2014

I saw this movie when it opened last weekend and it's truly in a class by itself. I don't know what to compare it to (I like the Before series, but to me they really have little in common), and Boyhood is so far away from all the other movies that I've kinda lost a huge percentage of my interest in watching movies for awhile.

I mostly avoided reviews before seeing it, but I don't think it would hurt too much to read a few or whatever. I devoured a bunch if interviews immediately after I got home from seeing it though.
posted by dogwalker at 3:09 AM on July 20, 2014

For his first couple movies, I don't remember what the exact number is/was Linklater's narratives were only told/ and shot chronologically.
This is the logical extension of that. It's a funny constraint that he puts on the story-telling yet an effective one. Effective in the literal sense or maybe I mean affective, in that this chronologic storytelling shapes every other choice the movie makes in telling its story. Which was interesting as hell, and in retrospect had greater impact than anything else. There's a deeply conceptual underpinning to the movie that Seitz talks about briefly in the last paragraph of his review. The movie is about temporality, the ineluctable forward motion of our lives. Linklater's faithfulness to this is, to me, impressive and I'm glad he's done it - shown he's serious about looking at this really hard. It's a big thing, and he's made a lovely film around it.
Now I just have to wait for the remake of 'Dazed and Confused'
posted by From Bklyn at 3:33 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Loved the Before... series

Don't use the past tense yet! I completely expect at least one more out of them, if not two...
posted by sutt at 5:24 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's heartening to see a film that has no CGI robots or hundreds of explosions do so well in the summer.
posted by tommasz at 5:32 AM on July 20, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'd call this film perfect if it weren't for the final conversation (which I found unnecessary - the movie has already made us feel it without having to tell us). But I hate the end of Huck Finn too, and that doesn't stop me from considering it a masterpiece.

Also - Patricia Arquette is incredible, wonderful, amazing in this and deserves an Oscar. Before seeing the film it made me a bit sad that it was Boyhood and not Girlhood but Arquette's performance transforms large swaths of this film into Womanhood.
posted by sallybrown at 5:39 AM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Linklater is a shitty writer, producing the same series of pseudointellectual ramblings in every movie, but at least the concept of this one seems interesting.
posted by beerbajay at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unlike the concept of that commentary, which appears to be "I'm smarter than fancy pants writer director guy." If Linklater had nothing but some comments on the Internet supporting his world view, I could get behind that commentary but it would be irrelevant and petty. Instead, he has built groundbreaking movies only loosely centered around those ramblings. So then the pseudo intellectual criticism looks petty and prompts claims of "I'm a real intellectual!"
posted by aydeejones at 6:41 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Linklater is a shitty writer, producing the same series of pseudointellectual ramblings in every movie, but at least the concept of this one seems interesting.

You have to understand that a large percentage of people in Austin actually talk and behave live that. It's uncanny.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:01 AM on July 20, 2014 [8 favorites]

Rsanheim, Moviefone has an option where you can choose "unlimited" as your distance and see every U.S. theater (at least the ones that report to Moviefone) showing a given film.
posted by Mothlight at 7:20 AM on July 20, 2014

Linklater is a shitty writer, producing the same series of pseudointellectual ramblings in every movie,

In being dismissive it helps, sometimes, to explain clearly and concisely why he is a shitty writer. Leaving this movie I thought he was a shitty writer because he didn't give me those big narrative pulses that I've been conditioned to expect and want. But then I recognized that that's why I thought he was a shitty writer (and there have been a couple of his other films that I thought were a little thin in character development). Which isn't really a sound basis for criticism. Every art work/ film 'tells' you how to watch it. The criteria of success/failure is how faithfully and how deeply it cleaves to its own moral/philosophical/narrative plan. What it does after declaring, 'this is what I'm going to do.'
And for me, taken in this light, I don't really agree with you.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:46 AM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Linklater is a shitty writer, producing the same series of pseudointellectual ramblings in every movie, but at least the concept of this one seems interesting.
posted by beerbajay at 6:20 AM on July 20 [+] [!]

If Linklater's work annoys and frustrates you, you don't have to watch it.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Added to my list of pieces that I would demand be written if I had magical powers: an Ebert review of this film that examines it alongside The Tree of Life.
posted by sallybrown at 8:59 AM on July 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm still a bit sullen over Before Midnight, but I can't wait to see this.
posted by nev at 9:21 AM on July 20, 2014

Had an argument with my wife the other day. The ending of Before Midnight is spot on.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2014

Added to my list of pieces that I would demand be written if I had magical powers: an Ebert review of this film that examines it alongside The Tree of Life.

That just made me sad in a way I didn't expect. I really want to read that, and it will never exist. I'll be missing Ebert today.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:08 AM on July 20, 2014

Also - Patricia Arquette is incredible, wonderful, amazing in this and deserves an Oscar.

I will co-sign this so hard. Floored by her performance. Additionally, there's obviously a lot of talk about watching a 6 year old boy age into an 18 year old, but watching the parents physically age over the course of the film was just as fascinating and important to me.
posted by dogwalker at 11:34 AM on July 20, 2014 [9 favorites]

I saw it yesterday and it was incredible. One of the most powerful movies I've seen in a long time.
posted by prefpara at 12:47 PM on July 20, 2014

Spoiler Warning:

He gets older
posted by Green Winnebago at 3:15 PM on July 20, 2014

...alongside The Tree of Life.

This was definitely the first movie that came to mind as I left the theater today. Linklater channeling Malick in the most satisfying and wonderful way I could have imagined. I also like that the film was shot in 16:9 which gave it so much more an intimate, home video feel.
posted by cthuljew at 12:56 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Linklater channeling Malick

It's interesting to think of the interplay of influence between them (which I think is probably more accurate than one influencing the other) - especially because Linklater was filming before Malick (2002 versus 2006), although who knows how long each film had been in the works. The recent New Yorker piece on Linklater (it was paywalled until this morning, or else I would have put it in the post) mentions that Malick and Linklater both work at the same former airplane hangar in Austin.

My initial thoughts on Boyhood vs. The Tree of Life were that the former is overly simplistic in parts while the latter is overly (and unnecessarily) complex and mysterious. But the main reason I felt Boyhood was simplistic was because of the sometimes shallow or facile statements its characters make. The more I thought about that, though, that's how most people's thoughts often are in the moment. It's the audience reflecting on these thoughts that allows them to deepen, much like a person's thoughts about things deepen as he or she picks up more life experience. Patricia Arquette made two comments about her character that I think apply to the film as a whole: (1) it was emotional for her to watch the film for the first time because only then could she see the fuller picture of Mason Sr. (that what she as Olivia knew about Mason Sr. while filming did not capture his skills as a father or behavior as a person); and (2) that her character had strong and persistent blind spots - for example, Olivia's feeling of "this is it, my life is over" as her son moved to college, which Arquette, who had lived through that experience, knew to be a fallacy. I think that's true of everyone in Boyhood. Mason Sr.'s final comments to Mason Jr. don't show he's grown much in his thoughts about Olivia, for example. But blind spots and inability to see the fullness of another person are built into the present tense of life. We can reflect on the past and imagine the future, but we are always trapped in the present moment.

Part of the magic of Boyhood is that it fixes its characters in their present moments and gives the audience the experience of reflecting with hindsight and with the ability to look at the characters in full. For example, Olivia's final speech: I completely buy that the character felt that way, even though, like Arquette, the audience (privileged by the long view and wide frame of the film) could see further than the character in that moment. And the film is especially skillful because it does this in a way that maintains the audience's compassion and care for the characters. The Obama Mama scene was so funny because many of us were laughing at ourselves at the same time we were laughing at Obama Mama.

Further, because of nature of the film, we also have the experience of recalling the characters' pasts. Through Mason Jr.'s eyes,we see a whole collection of peripheral figures come and go in his life, which helps us understand the impact even one conversation can have on a person. We see the graffiti painting in his room as a teenager and recall him hanging with his childhood friend, years before. Mason Jr. seeing Jimmy again - it reminds me of the time he slept on Jimmy's couch and he discussed elves with his father, which in turn reminds me of the Harry Potter party, which in turn reminds me of Olivia reading to the kids, which reminds me of the night her ex called her kids "mistakes," and so on.

In contrast, The Tree of Life (caveat: have not seen since it was in the theater, so I'm relying on my memory) mediates the reflective experience of hindsight through Sean Penn's character. It keeps the people around him at arm's length for the audience also, so that we are limited by his view of his family rather than seeing a fuller picture. Through his character as an adult, the film gives us his past. His character is recalling and remembering his own past and presenting that view to the audience, rather than having the audience build that memory at the same time he is.

In other (and much shorter words), watching Boyhood was like living another person's life, but with the benefits of hindsight and a fuller understanding of other people, and while building and reflecting on memory the same way as the characters do. The Tree of Life was like living another person's life with the same limitations we all have. For me both were powerful, but Boyhood challenged my view of the world in a way that The Tree of Life didn't.
posted by sallybrown at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

I thought it was interesting that his passion was photography. He was capturing the moments as he lived through them.
posted by bookman117 at 6:42 PM on July 21, 2014


I thought that the last scenes with the roommate isolating him from the rest of his classmates and the young woman he just met giving him the magic mushroom were huge red flags, just as much as Bill's creepily hitting on Olivia when she's his student.
posted by brujita at 11:52 PM on July 24, 2014

I told my wife on the way out of the theater this afternoon that they really needed a recovery room for the audience so we could collect ourselves for 15 minutes or so before having to go out into traffic. We've been home about an hour, & I'm just now kind of gathering myself enough to figure out why I was so moved by what I just saw. Maybe it's just the parallels I saw in myself, my parents & my children, and maybe it's because I'm a weepy sentimental old bastard, but I think the parallels were the point of the whole thing. Hugely powerful film. A real work of art.

Also, location, location, location. One thing Linkater really, really, really gets right is modern Texas.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:47 PM on July 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

Just saw it yesterday. The last 30 seconds were absolutely perfect. I could not have loved that ending more!

I agree with the above poster on the need for post-movie recovery. I was wandering the streets of Boston after it was over, randomly bursting back into tears as I reflected on it.

Linklater is fuckin' awesome.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 5:15 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Devil's Rancher and GastrocNemesis: I cannot remember another movie that packed such an emotional wallop. Seriously, wear shades if you have to walk around in public right afterward.

Who knew combining ordinary life with the inexorable march of time could be so powerful?
posted by whuppy at 7:29 AM on July 28, 2014

I could not have loved that ending more!

The ending was, indeed, perfect.
posted by crossoverman at 5:40 AM on August 6, 2014

I loved this movie so much that I couldn't sleep after watching it-- I had so much to think about! I was struck by how hard the characters tried; how everyone just did their best as time kept moving forward. It is easy to criticize people/characters/others in the moment and deem them as failures in some way, but when you have this fly-on-the-wall view in terms of both single moments and this wonderful temporal panorama, you could really appreciate the beauty of the whole thing-- how peoples' flaws and blind spots in fact enabled their strengths to exist and evolve.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 5:25 AM on August 11, 2014


Did anyone else catch that third-wall breaking in the final moment of the movie, when he looks away from the girl and as he turns he looks directly at the camera for just a moment before completely looking away? When that happened, it really hit me, and I had an upswell of emotion about what I had just witnessed over those almost 3 hours.
posted by sutt at 9:38 AM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just saw Boyhood. It was great, and really captured the arc of childhood and parenting and all that stuff. It was so impressionistic, so good, so true. It made me remember stuff about my own boyhood, and made me think about being a parent, a father, and a father to a son.

It seems funny to say it, but the parts of the movie where he is hanging out with his high school girlfriend in Austin, and later at the end of the movie where they take shrooms and go out into the desert really reminded me of Slacker (the movie came gloriously alive with colour whenever it was in Austin) and also Before Sunrise.

The last part of the movie seems like a bit of a prequel to Before Sunrise, a boy and a girl, new at grown-up life, walking and talking things out.

The movie captured the beauty and tragedy of life. What kind of stunk about the whole thing was that Mongrel Media, which is distributing and promoting the movie in Canada, had to show a bunch of previews for some of their other movies, mostly period pieces aimed at an older crowd.

So artificial, and the opposite of what Linklater is trying to do.
posted by Nevin at 10:32 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

The last part of the movie seems like a bit of a prequel to Before Sunrise, a boy and a girl, new at grown-up life, walking and talking things out.

There's an interview with Linklater and Ellar Coltrane where they're asked about a sequel and Coltrane says something like, "I think in the sequel I'm on a train to Vienna and I meet this girl...."

So you pretty much nailed it. I think it's interesting because I don't think that was necessarily intentional, at least not from the start of the project.
posted by dogwalker at 2:47 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Did anyone else catch that third-wall breaking in the final moment of the movie, when he looks away from the girl and as he turns he looks directly at the camera for just a moment before completely looking away?

That's definitely part of the reason I think the ending is perfect.
posted by crossoverman at 11:16 PM on August 14, 2014

Watching all four movies is a little heartbreaking as well, existentially disquietening, the passage of time. With the Sunrise movies I am the same age as Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's characters; I also took off for parts unknown after graduating from university.
posted by Nevin at 12:41 PM on August 15, 2014

Finally got to see it last night and was totally blown away. It's no so often that you get to see a work that's just not comparable to what anyone else has done before. I have more thoughts that I'll probably put into the FanFare thread but wanted to get into this thread before it closed.
posted by octothorpe at 10:22 AM on August 19, 2014

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