Boyhood Blu-ray Review
BOYHOOD is about a kid growing up with his family over twelve years. Yeah, but what happens in it?
How does one describe BOYHOOD without making it sound like some boring reality television show or even a meandering documentary? I don’t know if I have the answer to properly convey how wonderful BOYHOOD is while adequately describing the incredibly risky premise that will entice audiences to run and see it. BOYHOOD taps into life in a way that no film has done before. The simplicity is in the description, but the complication comes through the personal journey and grand achievement.
Director and writer, Richard Linklater (DAZED AND CONFUSED, THE BEFORE TRILOGY) set out to make a film about childhood. However, the initial premise progressed into an ambitious idea about growing up. Not wanting to cast different actors at different stages in life, Linklater filmed a couple of weeks a year for twelve years with the same cast. Taking place through young Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) point of view from 1st grade through 12th grade, the film incorporates worldly events like the release of the final Harry Potter book to the election of President Barack Obama. As our world changes so does the world within the film.
Mason and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their mother (Patricia Arquette). They occasionally see their dad (Ethan Hawke) on weekends or summer trips. Even though this is Mason’s story, we see each of them grow and age authentically, building some of the best character development seen on screen. As the characters change, so do the actors, giving committed, honest portrayals. The sincere, albeit flawed, characters change so fully, I would be doing them a disservice in a one-note description. Transitions happen without warning or conclusion yet with ease and care. We see friends and family come and go as Mason’s mom is remarried and divorced and the family moves to a different state. Choosing what many might perceive as the lesser moment, Linklater opts to capture the flirtation rather than the first kiss, or hanging with older kids rather than taking the first drink of alcohol. As you get caught up in one part of the story, the time jumps. But the beautiful thing about BOYHOOD is how it exemplifies every moment and experience in life as an important shaping tool on a personal level and yet not so important that it prevents you from choosing to be a good person.
Richard Linklater has progressively shown his capability as a director. In BOYHOOD, he gracefully tells a story by masterfully editing twelve years of filmmaking. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing, it may appear as though the film is getting so much attention because of the ambitious ground-breaking achievement. It’s no secret that a little bit of luck has to come when making a movie of this type of time proportions, but the reason, the real reason, this little film called BOYHOOD is garnering so much recognition is because it is quite simply amazing.
So what happens in BOYHOOD? Nothing and everything. Each and every scene is specific in detail but still represents a moment that we have all likely experienced in a more general way. BOYHOOD is the Cliffs Notes to life with the personal depth that makes you hungry for the book. Capturing life and time, BOYHOOD is a wonderful portrayal that fully engaged me until the perfect final scene to the point of genuine sadness for fondly missing the past and happiness for the looking toward the future.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC 1080p, 1.78:1) Richard Linklater shot the entire picture in 35mm to keep the look consistent over the twelve year span. The Blu-ray transfer looks fantastic.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound mix is great with all the dialogue extremely clear.
The 12 Year Project (19:11): Interviews with the cast through every year of filming. This is extremely entertaining and fascinating, especially hearing the kids thoughts about the film when they were young and how it was different or similar. I highly recommend this featurette, which reminded me how connected I felt to these characters watching them grow.
Q&A with Richard Linklater and the Cast (52:38): On June 15, 2014, Richard Linklater, Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, and Ethan Hawke talk about every aspect of the film in great detail. Sometimes lacking energy, the Q&A mostly led by Linklater is still very informative.