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"Boyhood": The Neverending Story, Told Quietly 

Wednesday, Jul 16 2014

In Richard Linklater's marvelous new film, a Texas schoolboy, played by Ellar Coltrane, grows up right before our eyes. He's 18 when the movie ends, and it transparently took a dozen years to make. Where does the time go? Maybe only Linklater could do a radical narrative experiment that's also just another low-key slice of life. Obviously, Boyhood required rigorous control, but never does it give off a sense of the filmmaker clutching it too tightly. The boy's sister is played by the director's daughter Lorelei, and their parents are played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, whose complete on-boardness with Linklater's project manifests in some of the best work they've ever done. It could easily have been too tightly packed, with all those years too brusquely clipped and crammed into just a few hours, but the real coup is that it's filled with open space. Linklater always has understood the poetic possibility of cinematic ellipses. So Boyhood has a lifelike metabolism. You blink and suddenly someone's gone, long gone. There are periods when aging is less apparent, at least on the older characters, but what does stand out is how their personal circumstances change. Some patches seem more polished than others, but that unevenness only fortifies the movie's credibility. The long-game drama always defaults to something profoundly ordinary. It's beautiful, and what cinema was made for.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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