Do you know that feeling when you’ve just seen something really special? An experience so profound in its wisdom, so immersive in its art, and so connective in its narrative, that it leaves you speechless and in awe of the passionate effort it took to create such piece of wonder? Something so simple and straight, yet so deep and complex. A creation to define an entire generation. That film is ”Boyhood”.
Richard Linklater has proven time and time again that his directorial skills far exceed that of many of his peers. He understands the human condition, and he is not afraid to show rather than tell. That is exactly what his latest and perhaps finest endeavour is all about. To try and sell this film to you would be like trying to explain the meaning of life itself. It is an impossible task, because the concept of life is relative and therefore unanswerable. The solution is subjective, and either you get it or you don’t. Same thing goes for “Boyhood”, which is a truly remarkable and courageous benchmark achievement in improvisational filmmaking, naturalistic performance flow, and daring storytelling.
What makes it so great is the fact that it isn’t bound by any of the dividing conventions that exist between low-budget art-house productions and traditional Hollywood clichés. No fancy swipes with the camera, no big explosions, no stylised editing. There is just life unfolding right in front of you. People talk, they feel, they get together and break up. They fall in love, work shitty jobs, do their homework and try to be the best that they can be to the world in which they live.
To be completely honest with you, nothing of any great importance happens in the 2 hour and 45 minutes it takes to get leading actor Ellar Coltrane from first grade to college. Indeed, we do see a lot, but what we get to witness are only fractions of this person’s existence, and it is then up to up to us to fill in the blanks. It really feels more like fragmented memories than wholesome segments, and that is okay, because the further it goes, and the older he gets, the more attached we become to him as a human being. We can identify with his ups and downs, whether it be his parents’ broken relationship, his first love, or his confusion about who he wants to be and how he is going to get there.
Make no mistake. The acting here is not pitch-perfect, and it shouldn’t be. That isn’t the point. The imperfections are what makes it so perfect, as contradictory as it may sound. Because none of us are perfect, so why should the dialogue sound like it is being read in the most overly dramatic way? It is the small things that make the biggest impact, and you may not even realise that until the credits start rolling.