Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)

What's it about? Filmed at regular intervals over 12 years with the same set of actors, it follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family as he grows from 6-year old boy to 18 year-old man.

Is it any good? On the surface of it, Boyhood is quite ordinary. We simply check in with a group of characters at different points over a period of time, watching how they and things around them have changed. Indeed, you could probably attempt something similar by cobbling together your old camcorder footage and selected photos from the family albums. But it is precisely this ordinariness that makes Boyhood quietly profound and life-affirming. In condensing twelve years of a boy's life to 160 minutes, Linklater reminds us that life - everyone's life - is short, so you better appreciate those 'ordinary' little moments because one day you'll look back and wonder where all that time has gone. In fact, for this reason, this is more likely to resonate with older viewers and parents, who will no doubt identify with Mason's parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) as they watch their little boy grows less and less dependent on them, whilst they themselves deal with various crises and issues in their lives. And as we witness a boy growing up and the relationships which shape him, it becomes clear that Boyhood is really a film about life, which ultimately means that, depending on your own outlook on life, it'll be as ordinary or extraordinary as you want it to be. I liked it and it even inspired me to go camping soon. Or at least think about going.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Well, after a slow start, Boyhood is now a front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar, garnering praise where'er it goes. It has been pointed out that this praise mainly comes from white, middle-class critics and Academy voters, whilst it may all seem a lot less 'real' to someone who grew up in less affluent surroundings. Plus, some have been quick to point out that the monumental Up documentary series has basically done all this before over a 50 year period, so it's not as unique as it thinks it is. Nonetheless, it would be a hard heart indeed who doesn't respond positively to the life taking shape before us onscreen.

What does the Fonz think? 12 Years a Boy

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