I’m really knocking out the Richard Linklater films the past few weeks! I love most Linklater films, but his coming of age stuff (by which I largely mean Dazed and Confused) can fall flat for me, so I went into Boyhood with hopes but also fears. Of course I also knew the shot-over-12-years gimmick, and worried that it would be just that, a gimmick.
And to some degree it is – I mean, a lot of this is pretty standard kid-growing-up stuff, from the struggling single mom to sibling conflict, to the new stepfamily and that turning rotten, to fun weekends with dad, to raging hormones and acting out. Ellar Coltrane does mumble through the teenage years a bit, but I mean, that’s pretty accurate to most of the teenage boys I know. The film is necessarily episodic as we drop in on this kid’s life every three or four years and see what’s going on – we hit the high dramatic points (the biggest climax is about halfway through when stepdad turns violent and they leave in a hurry – I was glad the kids had at least a passing concern for the stepsiblings they left behind, because I was crazy worried about them, but we never found out what happened to them, probably because our family didn’t either).