“Boyhood” a Magnificent Movie Miracle

imageWriter/director Richard Linklater has created the movie miracle of the year with Boyhood (A+), a powerfully stirring journey that rivals its extremely original high concept. This first-ever fiction experiment with newcomer actor Ellar Coltrane actually aging more than a decade in the role from childhood to high school graduation is matched by the emotional wallop and moving issues revealed in the human adventure. Surprisingly free of smugness or gimmickry, the auteur also plucks outstanding wounded performances from Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the protagonist’s divorced parents. This basically redefines the coming of age movie; and in dinner table and campfire chats, it reveals glimpses of the meaning of life. Linklater’s penchant for smart dialogue and characters works alternately as a love letter to Texas and to rock and roll, as a veritable mix tape turned playlist unspools from shortly after 9/11 to present day. Boy, did they find a charmer in Coltrane who exudes not a single false note as he grows up right in front of our eyes. He’s a stand-in for what has become one of the preeminent voices in cinema, reflecting advice he receives from a community of dazed and occasionally confused elders who don’t really know their way either and looking for a way to express his singular art that puts an imprint on the world. The production values are uniformly superb, and parents in the viewing audience who can withstand some of the film’s salty language will be enriched and left with eyes full of glorious tears. Passionate and purposeful, this film joins another favorite of mine, Memento, in the category of films that should not work but do. It’s a tribute to masterful editing. Like all great movies, you’ll have a hard time not seeing a little of yourself in this one.