Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

Kenneth Turan Must Die: a review of Boyhood


Directed By/Written By: Richard Linklater did both! (with some narratives contributed by the cast)

Stars: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

First Impression: Oh shit, this film is almost 3 hours long?!? Wow.  Quite an undertaking.  Is this a gimmick film though? I highly suspect this is a gimmick film.

Final Impression: Oh shit, I’m gonna get a lot of flak for this review.  Well…here goes.

I am underwhelmed.

I am also confused.  Am I missing something? Is there some little synapse not firing in my brain? What is wrong with me?!?! Why am I not getting it?!!??!

Breathe, breathe.  I’m okay.  I’m okay and you’re okay and doggone it people like us.

So…I am really struggling here.  I appreciate the vision that Linklater had and brought to life with the making of this film.  But the production of it and the fact that it spanned twelve years should not overshadow whether it’s a good film.  So I’ve tried my best to look at this film as a stand-alone product…and that’s where the wolf blows down the straw house.

This is not to say this is a black and white, like or dislike situation.  Far from it.  Patricia Arquette is a major high point for me.  Every scene that she is in, I watch her, and I marvel at her.  She’s so incredibly pragmatic in her acting style—so simple and economical, and yet so damned effective.  All of the cast turn in grounded, realistic performances, so I find no fault there.  I enjoyed connecting with some of the situations the characters go through-there are so many hooks on which we could all hang our hats emotionally.  We KNOW this family.  We’ve BEEN this family, we’ve BEEN this boy, we’ve BEEN that teenager feeling like everyone is controlling us, and, for those of us who are older, we understand what Mom (Arquette) is saying when she laments, “I just thought there’d be more…than just these milestones.”

But…ultimately it’s three hours of nothing much really happening.  Just a peek into these characters’ lives once a year for twelve years.  The French have been doing that whole slice-of-life style of filmmaking a lot longer, and quite frankly they accomplish it more engagingly than Linklater has done, and they’re not getting anywhere near the kind of praise he is.  I think it’s too long for what it is, I think there is a distinct lack of major plot arc…or rather an absorbing plot arc…and ultimately I’m left feeling a bit flat and bored at the end.  I started thinking about the “Up” series (if you’ve never seen those by the way, you are doing yourself a great disservice), and I couldn’t help but compare the two projects.  Michael Apted’s documentary accomplishes for me a lot more than Boyhood, and it’s non-fiction, AND it’s not glossing over anything.  You’re getting some real nitty-gritty, life-did-not-meet-my-childhood-expectations there, and it’s distressing to witness.  When I was researching Boyhood in anticipation of writing this post, I came across the one lone voice of critical dissent—Kenneth Turan, of the Los Angeles Times.  And lo and behold—not only does he say everything I’ve just said, he mentions “Up” as well!! Which is why I think there’s some freaky voodoo shit happening between he and I, and I must kill him.

Overall: This kind of experiment is normally what I champion for, and I want to be clear—we NEED more films like this in terms of taking risks and thinking of innovative ways to tell a story.

But I disagree with the critical praise that has been heaped on this project.  It is not the most cinematically arresting film to even come out this year, let alone in our lifetime.  Chill, Wins-TON.

Other reviews:


The Theory of Everything

The Judge

Inherent Vice

The Imitation Game

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