(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In an audacious effort at filmmaking, this fiction film follows one boy from first grade to high school senior showing how he develops. Amazingly, director Richard Linklater pulls off the hazardous project. But the boy does not grow into a strong enough actor to hold the viewer's interest, leaving the way clear for Ethan Hawke to steal the film. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

It took many months for me to get an opportunity to see BOYHOOD. It is not the kind of film that plays in Central New Jersey I guess. Thanks to NetFlix I finally got a chance to see the film. This was the film that was shot over the course of twelve years showing a boy developing over that length of time. There was one segment shot each year. In the first the boy was in first grade. The second was shot when he was in second grade, and so forth. The shooting title supposedly was 12 YEARS, but it had to be changed to avoid confusion with 12 YEARS A SLAVE. BOYHOOD is a decent film, but by its very nature it has to be episodic. The filmmakers took a great risk that they would not lose one of the main characters, somebody crucial to the production during the shooting. I am told that a film contract can only be seven years or less, so any of the actors could have easily scuttled the project by leaving, voluntarily or not.

BOYHOOD could be considered a series of stories but perhaps without enough connective tissue between them. Some of the plotlines are not tied up until the next segment and then the viewer must pick up how the plot ended from context. To shoot a film this way is a real accomplishment, but that does not mean the end result is ideal. The plotline needs a little more narrative thrust to pull the viewer along. Ellar Coltrane plays the boy, but he does not develop into an actor with stage presence. Ethan Hawke as his father steals the film from him. To make a twelve-year story short, against the odds, the film did get made.

I think that the film took an impressive effort and it is surprising that Linklater did not win an Oscar as Best Director. BOYHOOD is an example of someone who did not win Best Picture but deserved Best Director. So Barbra Streisand was wrong when she complained that a film nominated for Best Picture was not nominated for Best Director. The Best Director does not necessarily make the Best Film, so the converse has to be true also. I liked BOYHOOD for its originality, but it does not really have a strong story. Also, I think that at 165 minutes it is a trifle long. In the end the story just did not amount to much. Rating: high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

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					Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper