Thursday, 31 July 2014


This film is utterly astonishing. If it doesn't finish up in my Top 3 of the year I shall eat my 'smalls' and post the video right here. In fact, there's a good likelihood that it will receive my internationally much-coveted 'Silverbeard' award for best film of 2014.

But first a small, excursionary amble:-
Last week I was bemoaning the fact that I was going to miss this film due to my having to watch out for Blackso, in his scary, hot-weather habit of taking refuge by sleeping under parked cars. In fact yesterday morning my heart did a backward flip when I happened to look out of the window, only to see a black tail disappearing under a nearby parked van. Because of the torrid weather (and for no other reason) at that moment I was in an advanced state of deshabille so, always fearing that the driver of said vehicle may suddenly return and attempt to drive off before I've managed to get outside, I hurriedly had to find something to throw on to conceal my exposed (Don't look, Ethel!)   ..........PUDENDA!!!    With task duly achieved, I managed to dislodge the little fella from under there (Blackso, I mean!) and bring him inside, much to his evident irritation.

Anyway, that's all by the way.
Through one of those felicitous happenstances, 'Boyhood'  turned out to be actually showing, with no advance announcement, at one of my two hometown cinemas, this one normally only specialising in non-intellect-demanding 'blockbusters'. Did the gods interecede for me? They must have, as it was just about the unlikeliest film they could have chosen to screen. And (a lesson for them) it turned out to be a well-attended screening.

Now, getting down to the subject itself:-
Richard Linklater's film shows, over a real-time span of 12 years, the growing up of a young boy into being an 18-year-old young man. Ellar Coltrane is the infant (Mason) at the start as well as the almost fully mature adult at the finish, and we see his passing through his childhood, adolescent and juvenile phases. Growing with him is a slightly older sister (Linklater's own daughter, Lorelei) who, at the start, I felt would be well deserving of a jolly good corrective smack, so odious was she to her younger sibling. But like her male co-star, over the course of the film she also matured into a most attractive young adult.   
Although the focus of the film is, as the title suggests, always on Mason, it's the mother, Patricia Arquette, who is the 'glue' holding the whole project together. She is remarkable. I've never seen her better - and she plays a mother striving always to do what's best for kids yet revealing that she has feet of clay, not least in her calamitous marriage choices. (A number of times I was struck by her remarkable facial resemblance to Gillian Anderson). The children's (separated) father is Ethan Hawke, who is also the best I have ever seen him.

One thing that makes this film so extraordinary is that throughout its 2 hours 45 minutes nothing really spectacular or unusual happens. It simply chronicles the development of the young man through his family life, school, college, employment, in a matter-of-fact way - yet I was not bored for one instant. There are no captions during the film to indicate the age the boy has reached - and we don't need them, it working so seamlessly.
Often when a film is of this formidable length I'd be saying that it would have been more effective with, say, 30 minutes lopped off it, but I'd be hard-pushed to cite which scenes should have been dropped. They all melded into one, extremely satisfying, whole. And another thing - the use of background music is very spare indeed. There are snippets of songs but they almost entirely take place when sung on screen by the characters themselves at some event or on the car radio. They or not forced onto the film.

I left the cinema with some degree of puzzlement - namely, I can't work out why the film works so well - especially, as I say, when nothing of really major note happens. But work it does, and most beautifully too.
Trying to think of what I disliked about the film, nothing at all worth mentioning comes up.

If this film is not nominated for and doesn't win several of the major Oscar categories it's time to despair. It can only be that the tastes of this particular member of the public and of those privileged to vote are so far apart as to be beyond comprehension. 'Boyhood' is a beauty, a completely captivating, stupendous cinematic achievement. Congratulations to all involved.....................................8.5.


  1. I've been eagerly awaiting this, but it doesn't open at our art house until August 8.

    High praise, indeed, from you. Linklater is apparently, the right director for this huge undertaking. I am recalling the time span and naturalism shown in his "Before Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight" series.

    Only time will tell what The Academy will vote for next year. From past choices, I am not optimistic.

    Oh, Dear! Blackso is misbehaving again? I'm getting the impression that he wants to test the idea that cats have 9 lives.

    1. Admiration for it is widespread, Paul. As at now, the IMDb average rating submitted is a full 9, even higher than that of 'Fault/Stars', which is most reassuring.
      I can only think that what makes it such a gem is that it's unpretentious and honest. It's not for those who demand 'excitement' to get their pulses rating. No big fights, no alien invasions, no murders or even natural deaths, no large-scale violence - only a little bit of occasional intemperate language. Those craving to see something 'happening'; would certainly find this one boring, but it's far from that.
      And I can also say in passing that there's no difference in picture quality between the start of the film and the finish even though they were shot twelve years apart.

      I've still not had a chance to see any of the 'Sunrise' trilogy, but should they come on telly, as they surely must soon - each one maybe on successive nights - I'd make the effort.

      Blackso's behaviour continues to put years on me - and has done since he pushed his way in to live here in 2000 - such that I now feel 150 years old in relation to him.
      His under-car sleeping only happens in Summer, though every Summer. However, even apart from that he's the only one out of my other resident, Noodles, and all the other visitors (well, apart from Patchy who has to go that way to get to his rightful home), who spends nearly all his time on the road side of the house. The others use the facilities of the much safer back gardens, though I dare say that neighbours look askance at it, but I've not had any complaints.

      I'm eager to find out what you feel about 'Boyhood' - in maybe around a fortnight's time? I'd like to hear constructive criticism of it 'cos I, for one, still can't think of anything.

  2. Steady on girl.... You'll wet yourself!
    Ok ok I will go and see it!

    1. My approval rating is pretty near orgasmic level, JG. You know what that feels like? Of course you do!
      Btw: I read a contrary review yesterday, complaining that the viewer wants that 7 hours of his life back. Seven? Yes, 'cos (he says) that's what it felt like.
      So if YOU no likee, please don't blame me - I can do no more than recommend, which always comes with a proviso viz you may not agree.

  3. Replies
    1. Word is getting round, Sol, on how good it is - though I'm still perplexed on how it manages to work so well when nothing of really great significance happens. Maybe you'll spot the reason - IF you agree on its merits, that is.