fri 23/08/2019

DVD: Boyhood | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Boyhood

DVD: Boyhood

Richard Linklater's life-enhancing epic gets a frills-free DVD release

Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr. in Boyhood

Boyhood is an intimate film on an epic scale. Twelve years zoom past in 189 minutes, as we follow Mason Evans Jr.'s journey from primary school pupil to university student. That the film exists at all seems miraculous; you admire the producers’ nerve in funding such an open-ended project, and director Richard Linklater’s luck in securing a loyal cast willing to commit for 12 years. Especially the two young leads; Linklater’s daughter Lorelei as Mason’s sister Samantha must have been a known quantity, but watching six-year-old Ellar Coltrane mature into such an engaging, confident screen presence is fascinating.

Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as parents Olivia and Mason Sr. evolve gracefully, and watching Hawke grow from irresponsible chancer to the sort of father we’d all like to have had is one of the film’s biggest pleasures. Arquette's stronger character changes more subtly, but we sense that she's already had to grow up long before Boyhood's story begins.

Also remarkable is the film's loose, episodic structure, the narrative unfolding without major incident. Crises arise but quickly fizzle out, Linklater toying with our expectations. A brief instance of high school bullying leaves the savvy Mason unscathed, and there's a brilliant sequence involving him and his friends drinking beer and playing with a circular saw blade. We brace ourselves, but the accident never happens. A homely father-in-law presents Mason with an antique shotgun, which is never fired in anger. Some loose ends are left untied. We worry about the fate of poor Mindy and Randy, the children of Olivia’s alcoholic husband Bill (Marco Perella), left in the lurch when she, Mason and Samantha manage to make their escape. The age jumps are seamlessly handled: a scene change shows us a height difference or a new haircut, and it's left to us to fill in the gaps. More than once you're reminded of Michael Apted's documentary 7 Up. This powerful, optimistic film is the stuff of real life. Bad things can happen, but most of us will emerge unharmed and stronger as a result. A shame that this DVD release has no extras; presumably they're planned for the post-Oscars special edition.

A scene change shows a height difference or a new haircut, and it's left to us to fill in the gaps

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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