Cinema Review: Boyhood | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Studio: IFC Films
Directed by Richard Linklater

Jul 11, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Richard Linklater’s Boyhood begins with Coldplay’s “Yellow” accompanying an overhead shot of a six-year-old Texan, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), lying flat on his back and staring off into the daytime sky. The opening’s perfect balance of intimacy, grandiosity, and nostalgia sets the stage for writer/director Linklater’s unprecedented depiction of 21st century childhood and adolescence, shot over the course of 12 years with the same core cast of Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Lorelei Linklater (the director’s daughter). Hawke and Arquette play Mason’s parents, Linklater his sister. Boyhood chronicles Mason’s growth and developing sense of identity through his experiences with parental separation and remarriage, family relocation, domestic unrest, public school, and first love.

Throughout the film’s 164 minutes, Coltrane is a captivating presence as we see him transition from a curious, observant child without the poise and vocabulary to articulate his frustrations into an artistic young man with the perspective to comment on the “parade of drunken assholes” who’ve been stepfather figures in his life. Hawke’s character, introduced as an absentee rock ‘n’ roll dad, is equally fascinating, as his life’s unexpected twists and turns show personal change and growth as well.

Unlike television’s The Wonder Years or other coming-of-age films, Boyhood largely refrains from pinpointing the life-altering events in Mason’s life. There’s one sequence where a teenaged Mason takes a walk with a girl from his high school, and the two get to know each other a bit, but after the scene ends, we never see her again. The film touches on certain historical references—the Iraq War, the 2008 presidential election—and uses pop music wonderfully to keep us chronologically oriented, but mostly it plays like a lyrical series of snapshots, capturing the kind of shared moments in time that seem to resurface almost randomly in our memories.

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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