It still amazes me that everywhere I look Boyhood is receiving huge praise and high ratings. Did I watch the same film as everyone else? Richard Linklater's “ground-breaking” story of a boy's growth into manhood is simply three long tedious hours of uninspired cliché after uninspired cliché.
Boyhood follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the age of six to eighteen. No real insight into the nature of masculinity or the maturation of males is given in the clumsily choppy narrative, making me wonder why the film was not entitled ‘Childhood'. Particularly as Mason's sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), is the slightly more vibrant and engaging of the characters.
Another alternative title for the film is ‘Hipster Patriarchy', as suggested by Armond White. The plot is too sugar-coated to be authentic - the dad's ‘bad boy' to ‘responsible adult' transformation, the mum's succession of ‘bad boyfriends' that can be said to trivialise domestic violence. We always have the sense that it is all going to work out in the end, as the life of privileged white boys often does.
Then there's the fact that the audience has to endure the 90s pop-music soundtrack, as if the music wasn't bad enough when it happened in real life the first time around.
The plodding tedium of the film could have been broken up by occasional light-heartedness and humour. Unfortunately, this falls flat as well. The funniest ‘joke' occurs near the end of the film when Mason is spouting a monologue of self-indulgent bullshit about his own self-importance to his soon-to-be girlfriend. Haha, I thought, we are making fun of the angst of adolescence that becomes so trivial when one grows up. I looked around in horror at the earnest faces surrounding me in the cinema. Nobody else was laughing.
Boyhood is not the first coming of age movie. It's not even the first movie to be filmed over a long period of time (7 Up anyone?). It adds nothing original to the canon and I hope that it fades into obscurity.
Must say that I largely agree with Natasha on this. I didn't hate it as much as she did, but nor was I moved, enlightened or hugely entertained. It was OK - could have been worse - and it was good to see a longtitudinal film, but 7-up was (and is) hugely better although a documentary, rather than a semi-fiction movie.