By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on August 05, 2014

Stamp image Priority
StarStarStarStarHalf Star

Dear Stephen Light
Production Coordinator

Dear Stephen,

Boy, what an experience it must have been to coordinate Boyhood. I can't think of another (fiction) film where the production wasn't just part of the story, but the story itself. Of course, to you, the process probably felt pretty unremarkable.

In each of the past 12 years, you and the rest of Richard Linklater's filmmaking team reunited for a week or so to shoot. Only simple location scouts and camera set-ups were required, no doubt; the story takes places in various homes, schools, and parks across Texas. No wild theatrics from the actors were necessary, no last minute effects artists needed to "fix it in post." No, as far as filmmaking goes, _Boyhood _is about as straightforward as it gets.

But somehow, simply by virtue of the production schedule, it feels revolutionary.

Over the years, you must have asked yourself: "What's this film really about?" It may be easier to explain what the film is not: it's not a documentary, not a tightly-plotted drama, not simply a highlight reel of firsts in a typical middle-American boy's life. Even the things I stupidly wanted - like a cheesy montage at the end to remind us of young Ellar Coltrane's transformation from ages 6 to 18 - are antithetical to what Linklater wants to do. The fact that I was constantly caught off guard by Coltrane's growth spurts as the film moves seamlessly from scene to scene and year to year, was the entire point. Moments that came across as wholly unremarkable took on a perplexing weight after they were gone, like a memory whose meaning I kept trying to process. I walked out strangely underwhelmed, but my mind has been floating back to the film for days. It's a true testament to the way the film morphs over time itself.

Considering the lackadaisical pace of the film, I also couldn't believe how it barreled through its near three-hour runtime. Just one more of the film's virtues that didn't dawn on me until hours after the screening.

The 2000s pop-culture nostalgia (Harry Potter parties, X-Box games, CDs and Star Wars prequels) didn't initially mean anything to me, either--until suddenly it did. Seeing what The Half Blooded Prince meant to a kid erased the emotional distance I felt. Lines of dialogue about the passage of time that would otherwise have felt like cliched observations kept echoing in my head until they suddenly rang painfully true. It would be trite to say you need to be a parent to truly appreciate this film, but I'm going to say it anyway.

In the same way that Linklater's Before trilogy works best for those who have fallen in and out of love, Boyhood seems more precious as a reminder of what you've already seen--or what you're about to see in someone else. The third-person perspective is key, since the film is less about one boy's point of view than his entire family's experience. In fact, the Coltrane's changing face is so fascinating that it's impossible to see the world though his eyes.

It's no wonder Linklater cast his own daughter Lorelei, who almost equally deserves top billing. It's a gift she won't fully appreciate for at least another 12 years. At that point, maybe you'll both sit down to watch through Boyhood again. Even though being able to watch the film more than once seems to go against the very spirit of the film.

Because boy, what an experience.

Getting old,


comments powered by Disqus
(% endraw %}