Posts Tagged ‘Boyhood’

Life, fictionalized: Richard Linklater creates an interesting prototype in ‘Boyhood’

August 23, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 23, 2014

In 1991, Houston-born writer-director Richard Linklater released a shaggy dog of a movie with the title Slacker. Playing more like a documentary that switched subjects every five minutes or so than a traditionally structured movie, the film featured characters with names such as Should Have Stayed at Bus Station (played by the director himself), Grocery Grabber of Death’s Bounty, Espresso Czar/Masonic Malcontent, Happy-Go-Lucky Guy, Two for One Special, Traumatized Yacht Owner, Guy Who Tosses Typewriter and Handstamping Arm Licker. Over the course of about 97 minutes, Linklater’s camera restlessly moved from one character or group to another over the course of a day in the life of Austin, Texas.

Linklater’s newest movie, Boyhood, features a more typical narrative, and yet it’s hardly a typical feature. In fact, it’s rather like a reverse-engineered Slacker: Rather than focusing on various people who cross over — or at least near — each other’s paths during one day in one city, Boyhood follows a youngster, his family and their doings in different parts of Texas over the course of 12 years.

And when I write “12 years,” I mean that literally: Filming began more than a decade ago and continued every year or so as Linklater reconvened his core cast of four actors. (A few secondary characters appear in multiple segments.)

Boyhood’s story, to the extent it has one, involves families dissolving, forming, dissolving and reforming in varying permutations over the years. The divorced mother and father, played by Patricia Arquette and regular Linklater trouper Ethan Hawke, change from dissolute slackers (he more than she) to respectable professionals, making plenty of mistakes along the way. (She, perhaps, more than he.) Young Mason Evans Jr. (Austin native Ellar Coltrane) starts out as a young video-game-obsessed slacker who eventually develops a passion for music, art, photography and girls. In his spare time, the teenager Mason cultivates a personality that is both laconic and iconoclastic.

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