Film Reviews


By • Dec 9th, 2014 •

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If you support your family picking lettuce, your life is more interesting than this Linklater’s family. This is what happens when you commit to your stars when they are 5 years old and they grow up to be monosyllabic and lack cinematic charisma.

The parade of hosannas for the brilliance of BOYHOOD – you’d think it has eclipsed CITIZEN KANE as a towering masterpiece – eluded me.

What has gotten the most publicity is the history of the production of the film. The director, Richard Linklater, shot it for a few days every year for 12 years.

When Ellar Coltrane was 5 years old Linklater chose him as his star. Linklater was banking on Ellar (as Mason) developing into an interesting, expressive and verbal person. He also chose his daughter Lorelei (as Mason’s sister Samantha) as the co-star – hoping as well that she – growing up in Linklater’s film world – would learn how to act.
Child actors are marvels. There should be a yearly Academy Award for a performance by an actor or actress under 6 years old.) I vividly remember how difficult it was getting my son, when he was 5 years old, to do anything he did not want to do, no less learn dialogue, behave properly on a movie set and not cause hourly tantrums doing a scene multiple times over.

Linklater was taking a big risk that his young stars would have talent. While the scenes were sketched out, I understand a great deal of the dialogue was improvised. Unfortunately for Linklater, Ellar and Lorelei are not fascinating to look at and have little to contribute to the scenes. Ellar hides behind a flop of hair over his face. A scene is devised so that Mason is forced by his stepfather to get his head shaved. As Ellar grows older and taller, he hunches over and tries to hide himself.

We see Ellar and Lorelei grow up before our eyes! What is so remarkable about this? Has everyone forgotten that the production of the Harry Potter films series began in September 2000 and ended ten years later in December 2010? Daniel Radcliffe was already a professional actor. Rupert Grint was eleven years old and Emma Watson was ten years old when they were cast. Grint made his own audition tape and Watson was attending a theatre school where she studied singing, dancing, and acting.

Patricia Arquette plays Ellar and Sam’s mother. Ethan Hawke plays their father. We are not shown or told why Mom and Dad divorced but they remain friendly. There is no residue bitterness. So, how bad was the marriage?
Nothing about the family resonated with me. There was no high drama, conflict, or family rage that is so common today in families broken through divorce. Linklater should have filmed a few days every month at our house the year my stepson came to live with us.

Member of Boadcast Film Critics Association:

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at

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