An original work, “Boyhood” directed by Richard Linklater is a masterpiece. It’s funny and sad, it’s about life, and it’s entirely accessible to people of all ages. Young, old, in between can appreciate it at different levels. And of course, you’ve read that Linklater filmed it over the course of 12 years, tracing the lives of a fictional family he created. The trick is, you feel like you’ve lived their life and vice versa.
Last night the film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art (which Ethan Hawke excitedly called the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art) to massive ovations and applause. The director and cast were there, as well as lots of real “New York actors” like Bob Dishy, Dana Ivey, Tovah Feldshuh, Lois Smith, Joel Grey, and Rutanya Alda.
Over the moon was “Orange is the New Black” star Taylor Schilling, a major contender for an Emmy award next month.
Everyone sat through the two and half hour film rather spellbound. Linklater has taken a simple, elegant original idea and created magic. There isn’t exactly a plot to “Boyhood.” In fact, you know the plot. A young couple get pregnant, marry, have a second child and break up. The husband is a Peter Pan who is likeable. The wife wants more for her life and her kids, a boy and a girl who are about 6 and 8. And so we follow them over 12 years, from the boy’s first grade to high school graduation.
There are no kidnappings, murders, random acts of violence or super heroes in capes.
Linklater simply captures the nuances of life as it rushes by, in linear order. The idea is to live in the moment and try not to forget what’s happening to you, or what’s happened. But time flies, for the audience and the viewer. You think of your own life constantly while watching “Boyhood.”
The real and the fictional are so entwined that later, at the party, we quizzed Arquette about what she thought might have happened to a character who drops out of the story never to be seen again. We were all very happy to see the young actress who played the character turned up. Of course, it’s not real. But you like the people in “Boyhood” so much, from the beginning you want nothing bad to happen to them.
I’m going to tell you more about “Boyhood” this week. It opens in New York and LA on Friday, then goes wide the following week. “Boyhood” joins “Foxcatcher,” “Whiplash,” “Begin Again,” and “Grand Budapest Hotel” on the early Oscar list. If this were 1975, Pauline Kael would be raving about Linklater in The New Yorker. Smart people would be lined up around the block to see it. I hope by some miracle that happens now.