Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 106 Ratings

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  • Summary: Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. [IFC Films] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 40
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 40
  3. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jul 8, 2014
    Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is an amazing achievement in telling an unremarkably remarkable life story.
  2. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Jan 26, 2014
    What an astonishing achievement; what a beautiful movie.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Jul 25, 2014
    The revelation is Arquette. While the focus is on Coltrane and how he grew up onscreen, it's Arquette that's at the center of this incredible journey. She puts herself out there year after year, getting knocked down and getting up stronger. Her final scenes have the power and heartbreak every parent knows -- it's all about holding a child's hand, then letting it go.
  4. Reviewed by: Drew McWeeny
    Jul 9, 2014
    Boyhood is more than a movie; it is a vibrant, living thing, and it is beautiful, and it is sad, and it is wise, and it is sprawling, and it is intimate, and it is painful, and it is more than any filmmaker could have intended, and, yes… when it comes to trying to capture truth in a way that cannot be argued or denied or even summarized… I am sure that nothing will ever be this good again.
  5. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Jul 11, 2014
    It seems almost odd to talk of performances when they're as natural and unforced as they are in Boyhood, but they're fascinating, with the adults nearly as physically altered by time as the kids.
  6. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jul 17, 2014
    As a film that dares to honor small moments and the life they add up to, Boyhood isn’t just a masterpiece. It’s a miracle.
  7. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Jun 15, 2014
    Richard Linklater's film is an experiment in time, and one that's attentive to the audience's sense of empathy.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 5 out of 22
  1. Jul 15, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. -spoiler alert-
    I saw the movie without ever even heard of it during one of my 'Amongst Frieds' evenings (Ketelhuis, Amsterdam, Holland) where they just show you a movie they want you to see for whatever reason. (saw great movies that normaly are not topprio to me, like Enemy and All is lost.)
    Everything is being said about this movie. It's so epic in all it's smallness.
    I only want to ad a few scenes that hit me hard, amongst others:
    The soldier sitting on the porch drinking his beer, after the heroic stories he told the crowd a few years earlier. Normally it's "And then they live happily ever after." Now you see what really happens to a guy.

    The moment where mom leaves her teacher/husband with both her kids, but have to leave the other (his) 2 kids behind. That is about the most cruel thing to whitness. Living night and day with the other kids as if they are your own. Ghosh.

    And last but not least of course the monologue of mom sitting in her kitchen at the near end. Keeps me thinking...
  2. Jul 12, 2014
    For whatever reason, nuanced observations about the particularities of growing up in this generation has never really been captured honestly in modern film. Thankfully, Richard Linklater had been working on an entire film of it for twelve years.

    And although the approach of how this film was meticulously crafted makes for an intriguing initial selling point, it's about the furthest thing from your mind when watching BOYHOOD. What the method actually achieves is a richness of detail and passion that, in any given moment, can evoke melancholy, longing, love, laughter, regret, tears, smiles, and any other of the multitudes of words that come to mind in the experience of youth, and in reflection upon it. One doesn't even need to have grown up in a similar setting or time frame to Mason, our unsuspecting hero here. Regardless of the context of any of these characters' actions, it all feels like it's coming from a place of familiarity. Little looks, lines or cues will trigger your own achingly personal memories of the past — a fleeting time you wish you could do over again but would make the experience less beautiful. This is the most thorough immersion into another life seen in cinema since Satyajit Ray's APU TRILOGY (to me, the finest cinematic achievement in history).

    Through Mason's eyes, you can see plenty happening in the stories of girlhood, motherhood, and fatherhood unfolding around him. Patricia Arquette gives the marquee performance of the film as the young mother who grows away from the father of her children and takes on a string of abusive husbands as she tries to make life better for children. It's a common story for a lot of single mothers in this country in this day and age, but it's rare to see ANY female role of this depth and magnitude. It also bears mentioning that any of the narrative elements throughout the film that seem even perhaps OVERLY familiar — divorce, alcoholic father-figures, conservative stereotypes, peer pressure, whatever — have the effect in this film of only showcasing its sincerity more. There's a reason these elements are seen as cliche, and BOYHOOD does a remarkable job at grounding what are common American experiences in sense of truthfulness.

    I give this film five stars, rather easily, although I don't consider it a film without flaws. I think it was perfectly possible to trim the film a bit more, Mason himself is less likable in his later years and some scenes just worked for me better than others. But the film earns my full heart as all these things are in the service of a greater great. It's the intricate collection of 12 years of memories in carefully curated scenes, good and bad, happy or sad, significant or insignificant, that paint a picture of a life in a way. It's scattered, it's varied, it's precisely how we look at and feel our own lives over time and Richard Linklater has gotten closer to that in this film than any other filmmaker to date.
  3. Jul 11, 2014
    A boy enjoying pictures of women in swimwear with his friends. A boy being devastated after having his mane cut off. A boy debating the necessity of Facebook with his high school girlfriend. In all honesty, Boyhood is a rather apt title for this film. But it could just as well hold the name of another picture currently running in cinemas: Life Itself. That simple yet profound thing is what lies at the core of Richard Linklater’s unique 12-year-spanning story and makes it relatable for everyone, regardless of sex, age group, descent, social status, or character. Linklater lets his audience live through the fun and the pain, the love and the misery, and the excitement and the disappointment of his protagonist Mason with yet another wonderful screenplay in his repertoire and an unspectacular but still extraordinary way of directing. Leaving the cinema, it’s hard to grasp one has just spent the better part of an evening in front of a screen, but at the same time, there’s also a feeling of having relived your own adolescence along with Mason. Expand
  4. Jul 14, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The couple of folks that don't "get" this movie, such as Mancunian2014, more than likely aren't familiar with Linklater or simply don't like his other films. Linklater's movies are rarely "plot-driven" with emotional highs and lows. Rather, he explores the significance of everyday moments, and how transcendence and wonder can be found in seemingly mundane incidents. As for the boy, Mason, I found it fascinating that for much of the movie he was introverted and rather hard to "read" while the characters around him (such as his older sister) were much more "out there" and demonstrative. Mason is by nature an observer, which is why it makes sense that he takes up photography. But later in the movie he starts to open up and express his thoughts and feelings, while the other characters became more contained. This was one of the many beauties of the film: documenting not only of the actors' physical changes, but the changes in their characters and personalities over time. And I've known plenty of kids like Mason who on the surface seem shy and inarticulate, but who possess inner depth and imagination.

    Simply put, this is simply not a conventional movie, and can't be experienced or viewed in the same way that one would view a typical Hollywood film. I thought "Boyhood" sounded like not much more than a stunt when I first read about it, but the experience of seeing it was for me, overwhelmingly beautiful and moving. It evokes so many memories and reflections of one's own life (as a child, as a parent, as a wife or husband), even as it stays within a very specific, personal world.

    So from my perspective, all the professional critics' plaudits are well earned. Linklater has achieved something entirely unique in cinema (Michael Apted's "Up" series notwithstanding), a meditation on the passage of time that points toward the beauty and importance of life's everyday moments.

    Then again, I know the vast majority of filmgoers found Malick's "Tree of Life" transcendently beautiful and meaningful, while I thought it was the biggest piece of pretentious crap ever brought to the screen. So it goes with cinema.

    I would add that the only reason I didn't give the film a "10" was the reappearance late in the movie of a character that had been influenced by Patricia Arquette's character. This seemed a bit contrived to me, one of the only false notes in the film. But it's a minor quibble about a major, risk-taking work of movie art.
  5. Jul 13, 2014
    I was expecting a sort of emotional roller coaster with moments of empathy, sadness, joy, etc. -- having gone through real-life boyhood myself -- but rarely did this film evoke that kind of personal attachment and investment for me.
    Esquire has a Q&A with Linklater and Hawk in their latest issue, and in it they claim to have made a conscious effort to avoid cliches, but somehow they landed on a bunch of them anyway.
    There are a few great moments, and generally very few missteps, but ultimately this film does not reach the upper echelons of movie lore. It's good, not great.
    In short, I was expecting to cry. I had the box of tissues ready. Never came close.
  6. Jul 19, 2014
    What is interesting about this movie is that it was being filmed with the same cast for 12 years. We see Mason first when he is 6, then 7, then 8 and so on until he is not a boy any longer. Naturally, people around him grow older as well. It is as if you get into a time machine. I am not completely surprised: the director of the movie, Richard Linklater, made 3 movies about the same couple with 10 year intervals.
    This film is very good in many aspects but it would be even better if it were made half an hour shorter. My guess it was too difficult to cut a piece of work that took that long to make. But there were scenes that would make it better if omitted.
  7. Jul 14, 2014
    I am absolutely shocked by all of the great reviews. Maybe my expectations were too high but I mean the critics loved it and praised it like it was the best movie of all time, when it really is a waste of time. Expand

See all 22 User Reviews



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