By Jon Nelson

This movie has garnered lavish praise from critics since it first appeared in 2014.  The concept is a unique one: It covers the life of the main protagonist (Mason) from age 6 or 7 until his graduation from high school.  The movie took twelve years to make, a fact that seems to convince most viewers that they are watching a completely original cinematic experience.

Conceptual uniqueness aside, the movie fails on all fronts. The main failing is the simple fact that there is no plot whatever; it’s just a series of chronological scenes that are strikingly unoriginal in content and uninteresting in their presentation; none of these scenes are connected to each other except in the most superficial and peripheral manner. There is no character development of any kind; director Linklater makes no effort to connect the viewer with any of the characters, especially the main one. At the end, Mason the eighteen year old remains the same youngster he was twelve years previously that spent his time looking out windows. There is no developmental insight exhibited by him or by any of the other characters. The movie moves aimlessly from one episode to another without making any kind of connection between the scenes. Even the music performances are boring: amateurish guitar playing accompanying even worse singers. Moreover, there is nothing that occurs in this film that makes adult viewers reflect on their own childhood/adolescent experiences.

The main character has no defining moments in his life. He has no tragedies or life-changing episodes at any point in the film. No conflicts, no resolutions. By what stretch of the imagination can this be seen as great filmmaking? The actor portraying Mason never exhibits any humor, pathos, or any other characteristic that could make him more accessible, interesting—or likable. He never cries, or exhibits any kind of deep emotional impact at any point in the film. His life is completely uneventful, a fact that makes one wonder why the movie was attempted in the first place. Nothing major happens to Mason during these twelve years, and the actor playing him (Ellar Coltrane) never shows any charisma that could draw us to him in any significant way. Just about any six year old pulled off the street would have been more charismatic than Ellar Coltrane in this role.

A good movie will have incidents that occur that lead to some kind of resolution later on. Boyhood has none of these; Mason’s stepfather is eventually exposed as a drunken jerk, but nothing happens as a consequence. The movie is just a series of ordinary events in the life of a forgettable main character leading up to—nothing. As a commentary on growing up in America, Boyhood is vacuous to the point of being irresponsible.

I can’t recall ever seeing a more superficial and downright boring movie. I forced myself to watch the entire film, hoping that there would be something—anything—that captured my interest. There was nothing. Boyhood is a supremely uninteresting film that has no merit other than to serve as an alternative to sleeping pills. The main character never shows any original thinking or emotional development; Linklater completely fails in his attempt to show what it’s like to grow up.

Despite all the pretentious praises bestowed on this film, it shouldn’t have been made in the first place. On a scale of one to ten with ten being best, this film gets a one.

Categories:   Movie Reviews