Belfast Telegraph

Boyhood: A coming of age movie like nothing we've seen before

By Mike Gilson

You've probably only got tonight and tomorrow before it's replaced by the summer's Hollywood flotsam and jetsam. You know Godzilla 4: This Time It's Serious and the like.

But if you can, I would get yourself along to the cinema and see Boyhood. It's a beautiful film that will be quite unlike anything you've seen in the movie house.

It's amazing the film has found space between the dross that normally fills the multi screens at this time of year. Nobody gets killed, there's no gross-out comedy and certainly no CGI.

It's the story of a boy from the age of six to the threshold of adulthood at 18. In a groundbreaking project, director Richard Linklater filmed Boyhood over those 12 long years, so what you see is the young kid, Mason jnr (played by Ellar Coltrane), actually growing up in real time as the film narrates the story of his early life.

All the actors, his mother and stepfather and his slightly older sister similarly, and in reality, grow older and a little bit wiser before our eyes.

As a father of two boys I watched both in admiration of the direction and story-telling but also with a lump in my throat as you see Mason go through those stages.

The cuteness, the gaucheness, the shyness, the oddness, the angriness and out the other side.

Nothing much happens across Boyhood's two hours and 20 minutes and it is all the better for that. What you get is a study of humanity every bit as detailed as a Titian.

The wonderful, mysterious journey of boyhood itself. The single mother who struggles to make ends meet, has to make the tough calls but whose vulnerable core brings her children back to her side every time.

The father, feckless and absent at first, but loving, wise and funny as he too takes his journey.

The sister who ribs her brother but sticks by him through the sort of dysfunctionality that runs through the core of many modern families.

Despite the mother's two subsequent ill-fated marriages and the father finding new love later, it is these four characters that testify to the ancient truism that flesh and blood are the ties that bind.

As Mason goes from munchkin with a pudding bowl haircut to articulate 18-year-old with hipster locks via greaseball teen complete with monosyllables Linklater makes you part of his imperfect family, with all its minutiae worries, small victories and little joys.

You pray the director doesn't panic and go for dramatic lurch, a car crash or sudden death, and thankfully he has no intention of doing so.

The result is a celebration of one of the most wondrous yet little understood things on this planet, a family's love with all of its flaws but all of its strength-giving magic.

The profundity is not found in long speeches but in the nods and winks, the silences, the head pats, the rows and the half smiles, the ordinariness.

It doesn't need a 20-minute car chase or an army of 10,000 computerised Orcs to create cinematic wonder. Boyhood, with its patience and its simplicity, is an astonishing work of art.

Belfast Telegraph

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