A Long “Boyhood”
At the Theatre with Audrey Linden
Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” is a ground breaking exercise in cinema as it was filmed over the period of twelve years. This film represents a first in cinematic achievement for that type of continuity. We follow the family of Mason Jr. (Ellar Coletrane) for the twelve years from age five to seventeen. We see him grow and change as does his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) their mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette), and father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) and an assortment of ex-spouses.
While I was amazed at the continuity and intrigued at how this film was accomplished, I must confess, after a full two hours of watching the children grow up and the problems with men and work Olivia faced, I was ready for Mason Jr. to graduate a lot sooner. I was squirming in my seat already, and tired by the time the film brought Mason Jr. to his graduation from high school and into college. I think a good twenty to thirty minutes could have been cut from the almost 3 hour film.
While all was true to life, at times the slowness bothered me. This was no slick Hollywood film. This was a carefully thought out and photographed full length film. Mason Jr. was beguiling gin his early years. Children are such good subjects. As he entered his teens, well, his awkwardness was very real. I felt like a fly on the wall. The character of his older sister was not fully realized, maybe because this was Mason’s journey. But,I did not have a clue what Samantha was doing once she left home. I was left hanging wondering about her. Her character was rather shallow. Did she go to college? What did she major in? Did she have ambition? I don’t know. Even though the focus was on her younger brother, I would have liked a little more reflection on Samantha.
I think the character of Olivia summed it up when Mason Jr. was leaving for college. “What is it all about?” She had struggled to get away from his father, Mason Sr., who played at life by being a musician of sorts more so than a provider. Mason Sr.shirked his responsibilities and escaped to Alaska. Olivia uprooted the kids to go to Houston to be near her mother and to go back to college so she could have a future. Then Mason Sr. wandered back into their lives.
By the time the film ended, half her life was over and it was all spent in getting a better life for herself and her children. She became a college professor, married two more losers in the alcoholic control freak college professor when she blended her two kids with his two. Her next match with a college student of hers was not much better. He was a controlling beer slugging alcoholic. Thus her three marriages ended up in three divorces. And, now she has “empty nest” syndrome. She had two homes, and recently had pared down her life’s belongings into an apartment to start all over again.
Her ex -husband, Mason Sr.,summed up his experience nicely. Had Olivia been more patient, maybe he would have shaped up. He did for his second wife and settled into a a man with a regular job. The timing was just wrong for him and Olivia. They married and had a child at 23. They were too young. But, Mason Sr. turned out to be a caring father and was there for his kids. He was able t be a good husband and father to his new wife and baby. Ethan Hawke did a very good job in realizing the father. He helped shape Mason Jr., as he starting over with a new family and finding himself.
Mason Jr. found a passion, in photography which kept him going when life got tough. He was a bit sullen and morose, throughout the film, but who wouldn’t be when their mother married two alcoholic control freaks? But, there is hope for Mason Jr.
The film had the feeling of real life opposed to acting and I felt as if much of the dialogue was improvised as it was really the way kids would speak. But for me, the film was too long. I stopped caring. Two hours and 44 minutes is a tad much to see a kid grow up, and it felt like slow motion. The cinematography was seamless and Id love to see more about the behind the scenes as to how this film was made.
Check your theatre listings for “Boyhood”. It is playing at the Landmark on Pico and Overland.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” , “Shimmer” commercial etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her classes are on-going in June through July and start again in September. For more information, contact Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org