Boyhood Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review
The boy lies on his back in the grass staring at the clouds as they go by. Who knows where they’ll be in an hour. Who knows where the boy will be in twelve years.
Mason (Ellar Coltrane, who will appear in the Dave Eggers adaptation THE CIRCLE in 2017) lives with his single mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette, who earned an Academy Award for her performance), and older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, daughter of writer/director Richard Linklater), in Texas. He lives perhaps an average boy’s life, fighting with his sister, rummaging through lingerie catalogues and exploring when and where he can. After moving to Houston, the three again encounter the kids’ father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke, who earned a Best Supporting Actor nod), who missed Mason and Samantha greatly, acknowledging that time can never be made up. These are the main characters, the ones we follow and champion. There are of course many supporting ones—Olivia’s mother (Libby Villari) is often present; Olivia marries an abusive alcoholic (Marco Perella); Mason has a steady high school girlfriend (Zoe Graham)—who are there to better the main characters or break them or teach them; we have people like this in our own lives.
There is no plot per-se. Then, how could there be if there’s no true “plot” in one’s life? And that is just what BOYHOOD is about—childhood, adulthood, livelihood and so much more. With BOYHOOD, writer/director Richard Linklater has captured all of this. When it was released, much of the discussion focused on the extensive on-and-off production. That’s fair, as the dedication involved is unlike anything another modern cast and crew would think to accomplish. But consider what the film itself has done. BOYHOOD may have taken 12 years to shoot, but what is accomplished in less than three hours here is remarkable: Linklater and company have captured the American experience in the most honest way in cinema history. (For reference sake, production began in 2002, right after TAPE for Linklater, TRAINING DAY for Hawke and age 5 for Coltrane. In the dozen years that followed, Linklater had helmed eight other films, Hawke had starred in more than 15 and Coltrane had gotten hair on his chin.)
It is utterly fascinating to watch the characters (and their actors) grow and change. Each actor, from the Oscar-winning Arquette to the blossoming Coltrane, has such a grasp on their characters that every passing chunk of years blends with just the natural flow it should. (A lot of credit should also go to editor Sandra Adair.) There are no jerky shifts, no betrayals; these are not different characters from six to 18, from 30s to 40s.
This development is crucial to the film’s success. For it all to work, the cast and its director must understand time, which is perhaps a more difficult concept to grasp than one might anticipate. One significant question raised in the film is, What does time do to us? We grow, sure, but what happens? Richard Linklater has explored this as best as it can be in any art form.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. “This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a DFT Scanity film scanner from the 35 mm original camera negative.”
This high-definition transfer boasts a completely pleasant image that presents crisp details, healthy colors and nice contrast.
Audio: English 5.1 Surround. “The 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered from the original digital audio master files using ProTools HD.”
Dialogue is clean, sound effects are natural and the soundtrack (featuring Coldplay, The Flaming Lips and more) comes through without flaw.
Audio commentary featuring Richard Linklater and nine members of the film’s cast and crew: This track, which includes a number of individuals but none of the major players, may seem crowded at a glance, but is actually a nicely developed and casual one. There are a number of great production stories and details offered, giving fans a thorough account of the making of the film.
Twelve Years (49:28): This documentary thoroughly looks at the dozen-year production of BOYHOOD with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
Memories of the Present (57:35): Linklater and actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane sit down for a conversation/“family reunion” in which they reflect on the film one year after its release.
Always Now (30:10): Here, Ethan Hawke and Coltrane chat about the film’s style, working with the cast/crew and more.
Time of Your Life (12:29): This video essay, written by critic Michael Koresky and narrated by Coltrane, offers an analysis of Linklater and his works.
Through the Years (23:59): This piece features a collection of photos from the book “BOYHOOD: Twelve Years on Film” and audio of various cast and crew members reading from their own selections.