Film Torments: Boyhood (2014)


ANDREW wants to incur the wrath of cineastes everywhere and tackle the belated Oscar darling of 2014: it is, of course, chuffing Boyhood.

Where to begin with Boyhood? It’s a hard task to class the most acclaimed film of the 21st century so far as a Film Torment, yet here we are. But even with a rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s a film that still divides viewers; you know the kind, where half of the IMDb user ratings are 10/10, while the rest are 1/10. As you could probably tell, I fall into the latter category. So why do I detest Boyhood so much? Well, did you ever wonder why no one’s made a film like Boyhood before? Because it’s downright dull.

I mean, has anyone really sat there and gone, “Man, I really wish I could relive my angsty teenage period again!” No, of course no one has, because it sucked. So imagine sitting through SOMEONE ELSE’S ANGSTY TEENAGE PERIOD. It’s a series of events taking place over an unremarkable and uninteresting 12 year period. And I know at this point fans of the film will be explaining how *insert something deep and meaningful here*, but think of this, critics: Why should I give a shit?

I mean, I have my problems in my own life to worry about. I watch films to be entertained; why should I care about the problems of a group of people who don’t have any redeeming characteristics? Let’s take the prime example: main character Mason Evans Jr., played by the insufferable Ellar Coltrane. Aside from Patrick Bateman, has there ever been a more unlikeable main character? Hell, at least Bateman isn’t a mopey arsehole.

'Cheer up son, at least Birdman won Best Picture.'

‘Cheer up son, at least Birdman won Best Picture.’

Boyhood takes us through Mason’s awkward years and shows us how transforms from a vaguely likeable kid to a pseudo-philosophical, pretentious, hate inducing little shit. I mean, how the hell the writers thought this character would be likeable when he throws out lines like, and I’m not joking: “It’s like it’s always right now, y’know?” and “I’m not doing it for attention. I just want to try and not live my life through a screen.” Seriously dude, you and your artsy college pals can go fuck yourselves.

And let’s talk about what actually happens in this film, because in some respects, it’s a bit like a Coen Brothers film, in that everything happens and nothing happens. But in a Coen Brothers film we’re taken on this funny, brilliant journey. In Boyhood, stuff happens. Like, they play some video games, and the mum gets divorced (three times) and some other shit that I personally couldn’t care less about. It’s hard to tell why you’re supposed to care about these seemingly random events, but hell, they happen.

And as they do, the film violently rams pop culture down your throat until you choke. Did we really need to see the kids receiving Harry Potter books? Or actively playing the Wii? Or watching Dragon Ball Z? No, we didn’t. Sometimes it’s nice to have some form of ambiguity in film making, but Boyhood seems to put more effort into establishing what year it is then it does to try and make the film interesting. If these unnecessary detours from the plot (?) had been cut out, the film would be half the length and the world would be a somewhat happier place.

'Hey remember me? We spoke once? No? Well you changed my life have dinner on me lol.'

‘Hey remember me? We spoke once? No? Well you changed my life have dinner on me lol.’

And let’s not forget that this film is nearly THREE HOURS LONG. That’s three hours of your life you are never, EVER going to get back. Why would you spend that long watching this tripe when you could go out and make a big change to your own life… or watch The Silence of the Lambs and still have time to argue as to which pizza you’re going to order. This film took 12 years and to make and sometimes it feels like it takes that long to finish. On that topic, it’s a decent feat to use the same cast over that extreme period of time, but did you really need to push it this far? This project could have worked just as well as a short film.

Admittedly, there are a couple of things about this film I liked. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are great, despite working on perhaps the blandest film of their respective careers. I also enjoyed the bit where Mason Sr. talks about a Beatles ‘Black Album’ which compiles the best of the Fab Four’s solo work. But that was it; you couldn’t pay me enough to sit through this film again. Alright, it’s not as bad as Movie 43, or Jack & Jill, but it’s a different kind of crap. It’s needlessly pretentious, uninteresting, unfocused and meandering, with a cast that could be doing better films and a gimmick stretched to breaking point.

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