If you have talked to me in the past three months about movies, you have probably already heard this rant. After the academy awards, I feel like I need to share with everyone.
Why don’t I think ‘Boyhood’ is worthy of an academy award? How can I not like this movie? Who is this soulless beast who knows nothing about anything?
Basically, allow me sum the movie up in one word, ‘Gimmick.’
The art of film is the art of magic, skill lies in the artist’s ability to away from reality to wonder. When the artist relies too heavily on a gimmick the skill is gone and the illusion is lost, or worse, when the gimmick is constantly flaunted before your eyes, you loose sight of the film. At best, it comes across as lazy and insincere.
“LAZY!?!? How can you say that?!? It took 12 years to make that movie!”
I know, I’m not saying it wasn’t a remarkable effort, I am certainly not saying it wasn’t a tenacious endeavor, but it is terribly lazy. Just having a revolutionary or creative idea is not enough to make your movie good. Clear, skillful execution and final product are more important.
Maybe that is too harsh, but relying solely on a gimmick as the central theme of the movie constantly calls attention to its self. Rarely do you forget that you are watching a movie. On the rare points where you do forget, the momentum gained is abruptly jarred open by a scene change and an age change. It comes across as terribly pretentious, and if I’m calling something pretentious, that probably means it is more pretentious than me, and that says something.
‘Sure, sure, but the gimmick was the boy grew up during the course of the filming. How does that make it lazy or pretentious?’
I know, I get it, but that’s not the only thing about the gimmick. The other two points are that Linklater took a huge risk in choosing this boy, not knowing what he would look like or how he would behave as he grew up. The boy could have died, been arrested, any number of things. It is certainly ambitious. Using his daughter, on the other hand, he probably had some degree as to how she would turn out. He probably wrote the characters dialogue around the way they acted instead of the other way around, as it is normally done. And this is what makes it lazy. If he were making a documentary, I would have felt differently, the movie may have felt more honest, instead it comes across as contrived and forced. An altogether awkward presentation.
The second point that it seems everyone noted but didn’t take into account when they watched the movie is the Nostalgia Factor plays a heavy role in the movie. I a not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, movies are supposed to make you feel. But, it feels more like a cheap shot. It’s like handing out cookies to get votes to become class president. Most of us who watched the film grew up through those years, and the timeline can be put together my firmly through the dress and music in the film, it felt like a greatest hits of the late 90’s/00’s. Not to mention the changing technologies in the movie. You are forced to reexamine the past fifteen years of your own life in relation to the life of this American family. I am not saying that it detracts from the movie, but it certainly distracts people from seeing the film objectively.
Summing things up, the cheap shots to your emotions, the lazy writing/directing and overall average quality of the end product are what makes this not a great movie. The endeavor, the spirit, and the experiment are what make this film worth watching. It all together is by no means a bad movie, but it is not the amazing picture that people are saying it is.
The shining star in this movie is Patricia Arquette. She always does a great job and deserved the Academy Award for best supporting actress. From the first time I saw her in Lost Highway she has made tremendous growth as an artist. Her protract of the mother in Boyhood is strong and full of depth and dimension.
So, long story short, no, BOYHOOD is not a bad film. But, no, it was not good enough to win an academy award. If you had talked to me last month about this movie, I would have told you that I hated it, that it was shit, that it wasn’t worth the film they put it on. Now, looking back, I can say that I appreciate Linklater’s choices, and respect what he did, but I just don’t think that the movie reached the potential that I could have. It relied too heavily on the gimmick and needed a bit more creativity in order to make it something truly unforgettable. And for that, I blame Linklater.
But it must have been quite hard to remain passionate about something and keep your interest in something for 12 years. Most marriages only last 8. But, I’m not married and I don’t make movies, so, what do I know.
2 out of 4 stars