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Linklater's Boyhood - An Odd Misogynistic Trip

Now, I know what you're going to say, twelve years in the making and I'm going to read into something that wasn't in the film. Well, I would say you're wrong. Sure, the story behind Boyhood is extraordinary in terms of what went into it, but let's all be very very honest. If this film had used different actors to play the different stages of each character's life, we'd not have thought twice about this movie at all, let alone speak in terms of Oscars or its greatness.

Let's first talk about what is good about the movie. Patricia Arquette is magnificent with very little to work with in terms of major moments and an incredibly paltry dialogue. I'd be shocked if she didn't ad lib a few of her lines.  The only thing that exceeds Arquette's performance was the hype. Hell, no other movie in history has been rated as high as this one, before it even came out. That's right. Before anyone had seen it, it had 100 ratings. How does this happen? I'm actually asking, because I don't know.

So, on to how I really feel. Boyhood fails on so many levels, it's hard to really put into perspective how bad of a film it is. Obviously, it's not awful as a retrospective of a family, but nobody and I mean nobody, wants to watch someone else's family's home movies. There wasn't one second of this film I didn't feel like I was doing just that. On top of the monotony of this film simply being a documentation of growth, it is also bullet-riddled with cliches. The absentee "cool" dad, the work til she's dead mother, who always wears a smile. The poor decisions of the mother, which make the father look that much more cool. The ridiculous fact he's a deadbeat that until the very last scene hasn't grown up, but always has money and has the support of everyone, even the ex-wife at the end. The one, but two, new guys who decide they like to drink and bully kids. One was quite sufficient as we got the point, very clearly. The kid who isn't accepted, but isn't all that odd, who happens to date the prettiest girl in school.  Oh yeah and the horribly thrown in sociopolitical messages, that weren't sprinkled in, but pour on with a bucket. With all these faults, this isn't even the part that makes me the most angry. What does is the misogyny.

The mom got pregnant by accident, but kept not one, but two kids, because the pretty boy dad made promises, which gives the impression she was dumb, but the movie shows she isn't dumb, by making her self sufficient, subtly hiding that on three occasions. Then she has bad taste in men, because at the end of the day, she's too tired to have judgement, so she gets involved with guys who hurt her. Yet, Ethan Hawke is viewed as this stud, solid good guy, who just lacks motivation, much like his son is supposed to look. So this hard working mom who is abused, sits and allows her kids to be abused, but then sneaks off, leaving her kids with a madman, only to come back with one of her girlfriends and claim her kids, seemingly uninterested in the two other children she called her own. So the film keeps going on and she sits and watches as the second man ridicules her son and daughter, who we're supposed to understand are good at school. Then the daughter becomes a jerk (Linklater's own daughter) and seemingly disinterested in the family, school or even being in the movie for that matter. I wouldn't be surprised if she hated every second of being in dad's project. Then we get to the point where the kids are older, the mom is alone, sad, in debt and still grinding away, while the kids are successful, having great times with the dad, who gives the son every meaningful gift in the movie, while the mom just provides for him and it gets worse.

In the movie's two pivotal scenes, the mom gets no respect from her children. The waiter, whose life she changed in two minutes, thanks her and tells the kids how special their mother is. Arquette, looking life has crippled her, forces a half smile and look at her kids, who look at her with apathetic eyes. We then see the boy, the main focus of the film. Scholarship in hand, a little more clean cut, but someone who has pretty much found himself and his mother tries to connect with her little boy and instead of using this as a defining moment, the son reacts to his mother's life of struggle to get her son to where he is with "you're jumping ahead about forty years." The next scene he's at school, making friends, taking some drugs and following his father's advice and meeting a new cute girl, since he's learned that women are disposable.

Now maybe the main part of the movie isn't in my synopsis, but the rest of what I speak of was was. Hell, the kid doesn't even seem phased when his boss is ogling his mother, almost consenting to his stares. His sound advice come from a deadbeat dad and a teacher in a darkroom, while all that he's truly learned through his life is from his mother, sister and girlfriends.

Now some will say that critics love Arquette's strength and they should, but look at what she had to work with. She is playing a smart, successful, caring parent who does above and beyond what she could have been expected to and she is portrayed by the scenarios as nothing more than a MILF. I commend Ms. Arquette on turning nothing into gold and I hope she wins many awards, in spite of the role she committed a good portion of her life to.

Comments

  1. I am going to try to watch this tonight. I'll read and comment afterwards!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am going to try to watch this tonight. I'll read and comment afterwards!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent review. I just don't think the role is worthy of any awards, not that she isn't a good actress but I don't think this movie should get any awards at all other than maybe a slap on the bag for having an original concept of spanning it out over many years to see the kids grow up. That was semi interesting but the rest was basically a how-to on ways to be a bad parent and even worse step-parent.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent review. I just don't think the role is worthy of any awards, not that she isn't a good actress but I don't think this movie should get any awards at all other than maybe a slap on the bag for having an original concept of spanning it out over many years to see the kids grow up. That was semi interesting but the rest was basically a how-to on ways to be a bad parent and even worse step-parent.

    ReplyDelete

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