The fact that I did not love this film concerns me very much for my own taste. I usually pride myself in agreeing with all the critics on rottentomatoes.com and having refined opinions about film (I mean what’s more refined than rottentomatoes.com?), above the fickle, immature and underdeveloped tastes of the masses! What am I becoming? Boyhood is pretty universally loved and lauded at 98% fresh. I am…ambivalent.
A “fresh” review by Lawrence Toppman of the Charlotte Observer, featured on the rottentomatoes Boyhood page, states: “There’s not a great theme, a great performance or even a great scene in Boyhood. But I think it might be a great picture.” That’s a positive review? You THINK it MIGHT be a great picture?
Although I am sure I wouldn’t (and won’t) phrase things quite as harshly as this reviewer did, I find myself agreeing with and giggling at his assessment of the film here.
Of course I can see some of the reasons why people love Boyhood. The fact that it was filmed over 12 years is totally unique and such a gamble. An ambitious, captivating concept. But if the film, exactly as it’s written and shot, had been filmed traditionally using different actors for different ages of the kids and shot over a few months- would it be as applauded as it is being now? That’s the main “cool thing” about this movie. Yes it’s cool. It’s amazing. When has it been done before? And there’s impressive continuity. It’s pretty neat to see these actors aging onscreen. But I never forgot that they were actors, for one thing. The dialogue felt improvised, and not in a good way. The story was not that interesting. The characters were not that engaging. I promise you I’m really all for quiet films. Subtlety is what I look for in art much of the time. This film does feel quiet. Subtle. Not pushed. No agenda. Still. A casual observation. Slightly reminiscent of a documentary. And slow. I remember my mother calling me while watching Lost in Translation asking me if anything happens in the movie. I said no. She didn’t like the film. It worked for me. But Boyhood didn’t strike much of a cord.
It keeps going back to the fact that it was filmed over 12 years. That does feel like something that should be recognized with awards, and it does give the film a special quality. But beyond that, and beyond a few scenes that made me think about my own life as a parent, for example- I didn’t feel anything was illuminated for me. Without having been told it’s a great film, I probably would have been mainly impressed with the filming over 12 years thing, and not much else.
There are positives of the film obviously, but those are everywhere on the internet. Maybe I’m turning into a curmudgeon. I am finding myself less and less easily impressed. Because of course this film is an achievement. It’s far better than the vast majority of things being put into theaters. I just super hope it doesn’t win best picture. It probably will. Because apparently I’m in the very small percentage of people who weren’t blown away. Where is the Oscar for Best Overall Concept?