North West Theatre Company Film Club has saved the best until last, and on Sunday, in the club’s final screening for the year, are featuring a movie that many leading critics consider the best film made in 2014. Some say the best ever.
“Boyhood” received many accolades worldwide. The New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott called “Boyhood” the best film of 2014, saying that he could not think of any film that had affected him in the way ‘Boyhood” had.Peter Travers of “Rolling Stone” also named “Boyhood” the best film of the year, and described it as the years “biggest emotional powerhouse”. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian called it “one of the greatest films of the decade”.
Here, in Australia, “Boyhood” received a number of 5 star reviews and, from David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz (“At the Movies”), four and a half. It was also nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, which was won by Patricia Arquette.
So, why all the hype? Why is “Boyhood” now among the most acclaimed films of the 21st century? Well, it’s a great story. In May, 2002, director Richard Linklater announced that he would begin shooting an untitled film in his home city of Houston that summer. He planned to assemble the cast and crew for a few weeks filming annually for 12 years. He said “I’ve long wanted to tell the story of a parent-child relationship that follows a boy from the first grade through to the twelfth grade and ends with him going off to college. But the dilemma is that kids change so much that it is impossible to cover that much ground. And I am totally ready to adapt the story to whatever he is going through.”
So “Boyhood” was filmed for three weeks a year over a twelve year period, and the script also developed over that timeframe as the story and the characters developed. Only the ending was written before filming commenced. The film depicts the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), from the age of six to eighteen as he grows up in Texas with divorced parents (played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette).
The award winning soundtrack was also carefully chosen to reflect the changing years. I think what astounds me the most is that busy actors like Hawke and Arquette, who are always in demand, were prepared to commit to the making of a film every year for twelve years, and that a production like this could be carried out on a budget of only 4 million dollars.
When I first watched “Boyhood” in 2014 I was convinced it would win the Oscar for Best Film that year. It was eventually overtaken by “Birdman”, but it was immediately marked down for a future Film Club screening. At 165 minutes it is a long film, but as the lights of the theatre go up at the end it seems as though you have been watching for ten minutes.
“Boyhood” is rated M for mature audiences, and is very highly recommended. It screens at the Roxy Theatre at 4 pm on Sunday, and visitors will be warmly welcomed. There is still time – just – to join the club and qualify for the member’s surprise film on 11th December, which will not be open to the public. With the year’s program almost over, all it will cost you is $6.