Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for Boyhood.



Scott Hardie | September 10, 2014
Excellent movie. I had high hopes given who made it, and the movie exceeded them.

It's biggest weakness might be the combination of its length and its lack of form in the second half. You keep thinking, "ok, this must be the final scene," over and over, and the movie just keeps on going because it has no particular conflict to resolve in the plot. I'm glad that it kept going, because nearly every scene towards the end is good (I love the final final scene in particular), but it does suffer from having a half-dozen scenes that feel like they should be the ending.

The experiment to film the same cast over many years is being hailed as original, but it has been done before: Wikipedia has a list of similar productions. I recall reading somewhere that Stanley Kubrick filmed the same child actor for many years in his attempt to make A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, but being a mad perfectionist, Kubrick decided that the footage was unacceptable and he scrapped all of it, intending to start over when he died suddenly. Steven Spielberg took over the project and had a finished film less than a year later, and it may not have been perfect, but at least it actually happened. Linklater's film succeeds in part because he didn't even try for perfection; he knew that the actors would develop in unpredictable ways and he was prepared to tailor his material to their personal growth, writing many scenes just before filming them. It works because it's natural and relaxed, and is more about the big picture of life and childhood and family than it is about specific moments in the plot.

The only actors who didn't turn up again who I expected to see were the step-sister and step-brother from the marriage to the alcoholic college professor. There's a line when Mason asks, "Will we ever see them again?" and you hope so, because you want to know that those siblings who didn't escape the house were able to turn out ok, but that's just how life goes I guess. The movie's parade of former characters back again years later started to strain credibility a little bit, so maybe it was for the best that they didn't appear.

Was it me or was the manager at the restaurant where Mason washed dishes attracted to Mason? He didn't seem mad so much that Mason was wasting time eating fries with the waitress in the kitchen as he was that they were flirting. Then he shows up to Mason's graduation party with an expensive gift? Maybe I'm imagining it, or maybe it was an unexplored avenue that was being developed but didn't go anywhere. I imagine that in making this movie over twelve years, they had to film all kinds of extra scenes because they didn't know how the children were going to develop or which actors were going to be available again. The DVD could have hours of bonus footage if I'm right.

What happened to the third husband, Jim, the veteran and corrections officer? He's a dick father and a lousy husband (not nearly as bad as his predecessor), but then he's just suddenly gone from the movie and there's a passing reference to Olivia being divorced again. Was the actor unavailable? I expected a scene of their marriage falling apart, or at least of him showing up to Mason's graduation party.

I don't know how many good movies are going to come out this fall and winter, but I'm hopeful that this can hang on and see some Oscar nominatons, and maybe even some wins. The directing is obviously the biggest achievement, but the acting and photography and music are all excellent as well.

Do you have a favorite scene?

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