In case there was any confusion about my opinion on “Boyhood”: I was not the target audience … for a reason.
Most of the reviews I’ve read are praising it for its technique and execution. Which, is what it was, an execution. Richard Linklater honestly could have chopped out an hour and it would not have impacted the “story” one bit. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age tale; yes, it’s a fascinating way to approach a movie: filming it over 11 years.
But that’s where the fascination ended for me. As a person of color who grew up surrounded by economic, emotional and social disadvantage, the challenges in the film weren’t exactly ground-breaking. Yes, there is alcoholism and physical or emotional abuse portrayed — and not to engage in the oppression Olympics — but not to the extent that those of us who were surrounded by alcoholism and abuse are familiar with. It’s like the director woke up one day, 11 years ago, did a wake and bake and said to himself, ‘Wow, there are serious problems that kids go through these days, like single parenthood and substance abuse, I should make a movie about it.’ And this is not to denigrate the struggle of single mothers and addiction; but those aspects of the story were very two-dimensional. And that’s just the subject matter.
The film is called “Boyhood” but we don’t really see into the ‘protagonists’ mindset until the last third of the movie. It is more of an ensemble production — but with the limited content, experience and perspective of what a family like that goes through — it feels like walking through a Potemkin village, no one is especially believable nor has any particular convictions about anything.
It’s a three-hour navel gazing event where every half-formed thought is worthy of praise and the rootless existence of being a mainstream American family is fraught with first world problems, portrayed as character building.
I got worked up about it, but I had to remind myself that this is the guy who made “Dazed and Confused.” Which, is basically how I felt afterward, giggling hysterically, thinking, “OF COURSE it took three hours to tell a story about nothing in particular.”
See it if you have three hours to butcher, slowly.