Okay. This will not be a popular opinion.
These days when talking about movies, going against the grain is a dangerous proposition and can leave you isolated and ridiculed by the masses. The best, current, example of this is the ”masterpiece” by Richard Linklater BOYHOOD. This film received near unanimous praise from every man and his dog. Even criticizing this film in passing conversation could provoke hysterical fits of rage, public shaming and the anger of the entire hipster community.
Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys-mbHXyWX4
Herein lies the problem. People have opinions. People have different opinions. So right now I am going to stand up for my right to have a different opinion. I will not be ashamed. I will not hide in the shadows any longer.
I will stand tall and proudly proclaim that I DO NOT LIKE BOYHOOD!
Now here is a more accurate trailer in-line with my view point (courtesy of the amazing Youtube Channel Screen Junkies) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSZg1Wy7H0k
Have you ever had that conversation when you ask someone about their day and then they proceed to tell you in REAL TIME? You’d do anything to make that monotonous, sleep inducing, droning, brown-note of a sound stop. You start wondering whether Van Gogh had the right idea.
Now picture not being able to escape that conversation for 165 minutes. And having to pay £8 for this privilege.
This is what watching Boyhood felt like to me.
Its getting harder and harder to find original ideas in cinema these days, just look at all the reboots, remakes and sequels coming out every summer. (I mean Transformers 4? Come on people we’re better than this.) All of this means that people at the other end of the spectrum have to try something crazy to get attention.
And so we come to Richard Linklater, the only man who could be bothered to spend over a decade shooting a film in real-time. I can guarantee he wont have been the first person to have this notion. Fortunately all the other people who had this idea either had someone to say ‘No’ or had the sense to see this as monstrous idea. So off skips Richard gleefully into the abyss.
DISCLAIMER: The following can only be described as a strangely bitter analysis of the film. Apologies in advance.
Bright Idea Number 1 – Telling a story devoid of story
The art of story telling has delighted people for hundreds of years. Linklater took a very minimalistic approach to this story. So minimalistic that he just went ahead and removed the story altogether. Frankly, this was a genius ‘Bait and Switch’ move drawing you in with a tale of growth and inexperience and promptly replacing this with the chance to think about your own childhood. Only to realise what a little shit you were. This approach allows you to draw your own conclusions about the on-screen family. However, in practice this makes the two and a half hour runtime excruciating (and I sat through the entirety of the Tree Of Life). ”But life is the story” I hear you cry. Well I might agree if anything of note happened in these lives or if I could muster any semblance of affection for these characters.
A note to any budding film makers out there. Finish your script before you start filming or you’ll end up having your mother repeatedly date the same drunken arsehole with a different face.
Bright Idea Number 2 – Casting your daughter as ‘the daughter’
I’m sure Lorelei Linklater is a wonderfully talented person. Unfortunately, these talents do not include acting. The hardest thing to watch about this movie is her maddening performance which ranges from irritating to stupefying whilst being exceptionally cringe worthy throughout.
9/10 times a child actor is not going to be very good eg Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Only about 1/100 child actors will actually become a good actor in later life eg Daniel Rad….. I’m no mathematician but those are not good odds. Linklater proceeded to completely obey these odds by casting Ellar Coltrane as ‘the boy’ who manages to sulk his way through several progressively worse haircuts as well as the awkward teenage phase where is face hasn’t quite grown to fit his features yet.
Bright Idea Number 3 – Turn your one singular idea into praise for every single bit of the film
Here lies the true depths of Linklater’s genius. You have one trick, no problem. Just rely so heavily upon that one trick until it becomes two tricks. Then 4. Then 8. …..
The acting is amazing because it was done for 12 YEARS.
The directing is amazing because he did it for 12 YEARS.
The script is amazing because it took place over 12 YEARS.
The editing is amazing because its done over 12 YEARS.
The soundtrack is amazing because it covered 12 YEARS.
This one tiny insignificant thing is amazing because it happened for 12 YEARS.
Just because you did something the longest doesn’t mean you did it the best. If you take the same acting, script, story, soundtrack and shoot it in 6 months no one would look twice at this film. Aside from the film being visually beautiful there is nothing particularly remarkable about the film. The now sainted Patricia Arquette gives a solid performance that is elevated to lofty greatness and applause purely because she stuck with it for 12 YEARS.. There were lots of performances more deserving of this praise over the last year: Emma Stone (Birdman), Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin) to name just two. I mean even the fake baby in American Sniper could play its role for 12 YEARS.
Bright Idea Number 4 – Panda to everyone
After all this you need just a little more to really drive everyone into fits of grateful nostalgia and childhood revelry. So prepare to watch in horror as a reference to every single fad, trend, song, TV show and celebrity of the last decade is shoved quite literally down your throat. All this pandering has two purposes. Firstly, to remind you the film was shot over 12 YEARS and secondly to distract you from the fact that nothing is actually happening on screen. Job well done!
BUT when all is said and done, the people who like this film are still going to like it and continue to publicly berate you for just ”not getting it” or for being ”uncultured” (guilty as charged on that count). But together maybe we can make a stand and say in one true voice that WE DO NOT LIKE BOYHOOD and finally be accepted for who we are.
I really need to get out more!
VERDICT: He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!