The Devil All the Time – Review

Rating: 18
Cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan and Eliza Scanlen
Directed by Antonio Campos
Written by Donald Ray Pollock (Novel), Antonio Campos and Paulo Campos
Length: 138mins

Once again, Netflix have delivered another fan favourite with their latest release, ‘The Devil All the Time.’ Pitching massively popular actors and actresses such as Tom Holland, Eliza Scanlen and Robert Pattinson against each other, as well as solidifying the cast with more experienced actors such as Jason Clarke and Riley Keough, the film delivers an intriguing story that’s fleshed out by the diverse range of performers.

From the title to almost every scene within the story, it’s very clear that ‘The Devil All the Time’ is deeply interested in the role that Christianity plays in everyday lives, and how some can become corrupted by their belief. You’d struggle to find any character that you could label as ‘morally good’ within the film, but ‘The Devil All the Time’ definitely utilises the influence of faith over a person to explore just how manipulative a character can become. By setting the story during a period of American culture – particularly in the South – where Christianity was so popular, there are almost no characters who ever question the actions of the church. This particular idea is often what draws the most amount of intrigue to a scene, with characters being seemingly free to interpret the word of the bible to whatever suits them best. As a result of this, the story becomes an allegorical reflection of the way that those with power almost always maintain their hold over others, with the rest remaining inconsequential, no matter the form that such power takes. 

It’s undeniable that the film has an interesting story to work from, with the interwoven characters and settings allowing for a rich context for the potential story’s basis. However, the actual execution of such a layout feels as if it falls short. Despite the main plot points of the story appearing to play out not so far from one another, the film fails to create a strong connection between locations and events, and ultimately just leaves the viewer to watch places come and go as each section of the plot plays out. 

One of the greatest issues I found with the film is the constant use of narration throughout. Whilst it’s a nice idea to allow the author of the source novel to take up of the role of the omniscient spectator, the incessant inclusion of their comments often would take away any form of ambiguity or intrigue from a scene, with the characters intentions and emotions being explicitly laid out before the viewer. A traditional-style story such as ‘The Devil All the Time’ definitely suits some narration, but perhaps one that isn’t as intrusive and frequent as the one used within the film. 

‘The Devil All the Time’ is definitely a film worth seeing, and it’s great to see that larger corporations are constantly working towards releasing new and original content in collaboration with interesting creators such as Antonio Campos, especially when it looks as if we might be becoming even more reliant on these streaming services once again in the coming months.

Yesterday – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Kate McKinnon and Ed Sheeran
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis
Length: 116mins

In Danny Boyle’s 2019 musical comedy Himesh Patel plays Jack, a very normal guy from Lowestoft with big dreams of making it as a singer-songwriter. On evenings and weekends he plays small gigs arranged by his biggest fan and make shift manager, Ellie (Lily James) who has believed in him since hearing his rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ when they were both still in school.But then one night, at the same moment that Jack loses consciousness due to a road accident, a gigantic electrical storm hits earth and, after a brief power cut, the unimaginable happened – The Beatles are erased from history. Jack realises that he is the only person with any memory of the band and that he is the only one who remembers the Beatles songs; thus begins the journey to see if he can pass them off as his own.

An ambitious storyline to say the least, but Curtis and Barth attacked their wonderfully kookie idea and managed to create something truly unique and uplifting. Himesh Patel steps confidently into his role as the classic Richard Curtis ‘lovably hopeless’ character, though some Brits might know Patel from his role in Eastenders, the fact that he was relatively unknown was one of the elements that attracted Danny Boyle to him during casting. Lily James is just as charming as ever, the likeable force that she brings into any of her projects just makes this film more well rounded. Her character is the most relatable, arguably the most ‘normal, in the story, surrounded by either heightened characters like Rocky or Jacks parents yet left on the sidelines for the big leap to stardom and keeping her feet firmly on the ground.

The way that they made this bizarre story work is through having the actors play it really straight, allowing the comedy to flow out of the train of ridiculous circumstances and not overly pushing the funny moments. Boyle really managed to create a world where Jack believes his plan will work, a situation where the audience empathises with the normality of the focal characters and find themselves rooting for their successes.

There was always going to be some slight concern when you hear that anyone other than The Beatles is performing their songs, but Patel brings a really nice balance of his own voice and interpretation of the stories being told through them with the familiarity of the famous music. The way the songs are woven into the story and paced throughout the film helps with the progression of the timeline. Danny Boyle has commented while being interviewed that Himesh Patel sang Yesterday in one of his auditions and was one of the few actors who managed to connect with the song on a level that made it not sound like karaoke.

A film made purely for entertainment and it so committed to it’s storyline is such a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong I love a film with all sorts of underlying themes and questions but this film is just brilliantly likeable. It’s a real family film with a whole range of humour, jam packed with wonderful songs in amongst a fully unrealistic, yet entertaining story. There’s very little with which to find in fault Yesterday, it’s absolutely my go to feel good film.

Babyteeth – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis and Toby Wallace
Directed by Shannon Murphy
Written by Rita Kalnejais
Length: 118mins

After the rise of A24 in recent years, and their clear success with beautifully shot coming-of-age stories that follow the lives of small town, but interesting characters, ‘Babyteeth’ takes note of such a formula and re-interprets it as something entirely different. Following the story of a young girl in the throes of chemotherapy, her fascination with a local, small-time drug dealer causes her parents to soon worry about how she’s spending her potential last days.

Led by recent star Eliza Scanlen, who’s found success in the last few years from the role of Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of ‘Little Women,’ as well as 2018’s ‘Sharp Objects’ mini-series – a thrilling drama that investigates the murders of two young girls. Despite only appearing in a few feature films, Scanlen fulfills the starring role of Milla effortlessly, and her portrayal of a young person plagued by uncertainty about her own future is nothing short of compelling. Her actions are at once both confident and full of doubt, subtly demonstrating to the viewer her desperation for some sort of certainty within her life – a certainty that no one around her can provide. This sort of characteristic is perhaps best personified in the drug dealer that she befriends – Moses. The unpredictability of his nature fulfills the need for both rebellion and care that Milla seeks from her life at that time, and once again Toby Wallace’s performance as such a chaotic character is brilliant, working excellently in line with the prescribed drug-fuelled world that surrounds Milla. Their relationship is never explicitly laid out to the viewer, and as a result, you’re drawn further into the story, and further into the experiences of these two young people.

Thematically, the film covers a wide range of topics, from drug abuse, physical and mental health and the importance of clear relationships within a family. But once again, ‘Babyteeth’ never lays out these issues in easily-digestible chunks for the viewer. Like the title connotes, the characters can only work their way through these issues a small amount at a time, and the way in which these things are broken down are all too often not how it may first appear. The narrative elements of the story rely almost entirely on the actions of the characters, and their ever-changing moods and perceptions of one another cause the film to always have something interesting to welcome into the story. In fact, the complete lack of hospital visits or therapy sessions that so often fill out films with a similar illness-based origin allows the story to explore the overall experience of a loved one battling cancer, rather than the direct side-effects of the disease on a certain character. For this reason, the film never feels like its bound to the storyline that a short description of the narrative would provide, and the characters often stray into territory that feels like a distraction from the overall arc of the film, but works completely naturally when looking into the relationship of two young people.

For a debut feature film, ‘Babyteeth’ shows that director Shannon Murphy is an exciting new voice in the world of film, and her approach to a subject is often not as simple as it may first appear. A clear focus on the characters that inhabit the world of her films, as well as the way in which each relationship is presented shows us that Murphy has a genuine interest in how the story is interpreted by the audience.

Tenet – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Dimple Kapadia and Himesh Patel
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher Nolan
Length: 150mins

Over the course of the last two decades, Christopher Nolan’s name has become synonymous with the sort of mind-bending action-packed blockbusters that’ll leave you wondering what happened for the last two hours, and how soon you can see it again. But behind the grand spectacles and even grander scores, Nolan is capable of weaving a great amount of emotion into his films – a characteristic often left behind in the blockbuster genre. His latest release, ‘Tenet,’ certainly ticks some of his usual boxes, whilst also looking to expand on some more complex ideas, even by his own standards.

It’s very clear that Nolan has a fondness for complexity within his stories, whether that be the multi-layered dream states found throughout ‘Inception,’ the interwoven relationship between time and distance explored within his sci-fi release ‘Interstellar,’ or even the frequent memory loss that causes the narrative to become almost cyclical in his earlier – and significantly lower budget – film, ‘Memento.’ In this way, ‘Tenet’ smoothly fits into the Nolan catalogue as another exploration into an almost incomprehensible idea, with the focus this time resting on a variation of time travel that can’t be described in too much detail without giving away a few spoilers. Either way, this is another Christopher Nolan film that requires a great amount of attention throughout, and will probably still leave you wondering what just happened.

Many people have become critical of Nolan in recent years for his use of such complex plots – and for good reason. To challenge an audience is always encouraged, but to actively deliver a film that relies on a level of attention which can completely distract from any enjoyment of what is actually playing out onscreen is an issue that many have found to recur throughout his filmography. Of course, it could be argued that there should never be a limit on just how creative a filmmaker could be, and of course this is true, but with such relentless complexity, it’s expected by audiences that there will be enough exposition to give a fair chance of understanding what happens. Whilst Nolan’s found great success in this regard with earlier films such as ‘Inception’ and ‘Interstellar,’ while still retaining a level of ambiguity that allows for intrigue on the viewers end, ‘Tenet’ seems to regard such an entry into the film’s narrative with no more than a vague disinterest. Moments of important detail are all-too-often drowned out by the overbearing score, and those that are audible come shrouded in references to philosophies and paradoxes that will generally go over the heads of most audience members – at least on a first watch. 

However, I truly believe that no one should be limited in their creativity by what those around them will make of it, and ‘Tenet’ does deliver a more sensical narrative after a repeat watch. But a film that makes sense to its audience is no less intelligent or intriguing than one that doesn’t, and In this way ‘Tenet’ appears as if Nolan has very little regard for any sort of widespread audience enjoyment, directly contrasting the very definition of a blockbuster, which like it or not, Nolan has come to be known for.

Despite all of this, there are some great moments within the film. All-round solid performances from the star-studded cast allow us to become greater invested in their characters, but is once again let down by the complete lack of any sort of emotional development. Attempts of relationships growing on-screen and playing into the narrative, which worked so well in earlier Nolan films, are completely devoid of any such care within ‘Tenet.’ The film works brilliantly as an intriguing action film, and would be greatly accepted as such if it didn’t try so hard to be something greater, without fully realising its own potential.

There’s no denying that ‘Tenet’ is an admirable feat of what can be achieved when working with the type of budgets that Nolan now has access to, and to miss such an experience would be a shame. Of course, be safe when doing so, but if you can, I would highly suggest going to see this film in the cinema, even if it is just to relive the movie magic of the big-screen experience for the first time in a good few months.

The Equalizer – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz and David Harbour
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Richard Wenk
Length: 132mins

Robert McCall (Washington) is a former special service commando who faked his own death in the hopes of living out a quiet life. Instead, he comes out of a self-imposed retirement to save a young girl (Moretz) and finds his desire for justice reawakened after coming face to face with members of a brutal Russian gang…

Antoine Fuqua does a brilliant job of telling the story – it doesn’t span over a great length of time yet a lot happens. I really appreciate how he manages to successfully illustrate Robert’s day to day experiences in just a few scenes without using an arty montage or other more suggestive techniques. He had a real confidence in Washington’s ability and you can see it translate to screen. What is fantastic is to watch a film that has a deep consideration of ‘character’ whilst also being able to pull off some amazing action sequences.

Denzel Washington is an absolute powerhouse, I don’t think anyone would argue that his skill is just phenomenal and it’s pretty much a given that he’ll be great in whatever role he undertakes. What is really interesting with the role of Robert is that they needed to cast someone who you can believe to be such a kindhearted, selfless individual who could be equally as convincing as a brutal, determined weapon – both in appearance and in build. Denzel was the perfect fit and it’s such a pleasure to watch him work, particularly in the first half of the film where he is interacting with the peripheral characters and taking situations in as they happen. Although all of the performances are strong in this film, Chloe Grace Moretz is also worth mentioning. Her part is not enormous but she manages to create a really likeable character who the audience empathises with; thus making Roberts reaction to her story much more acceptable to an audience who cares for her.

The film feels complete, which is quite refreshing. Though a sequel was released in 2018 I don’t believe this film was created with the intention of dragging the story and characters out. The story is wrapped up nicely and by the end of the story it leaves it’s audience with very few questions. Real credit to the writer, Richard Wenk, who creates a story where it’s a very natural start to the action – of course bits and pieces about the past come out throughout the film but there’s no confusion from the moment the film starts, right through the action to a solid ending.

Though the violence and, shall we say, ‘creative’ methods that Robert uses to dispatch the bad guys is pretty brutal, the film is only rated 15 so it gives you an indication of the intensity before you watch. If you can stomach a bit of violence I really recommend giving it a watch. It truly holds its own as and action/thriller and is a really brilliant watch with some stellar performances.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Review

Rating: PG
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis and Michael Gambon
Written by J.K. Rowling (Novel) and Steve Kloves
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Length: 141mins

After the success of the first two Harry Potter films in the early 2000’s, the rapidly growing franchise was looking to distance itself from the label of ‘children’s films,’ and instead be seen as an adult-friendly series also. In an attempt to do so, the producers turned to director Alfonso Cuarón, who at the time was fresh off the success of his latest release, ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien,’ a road trip movie that explores the sexual awakening of two teenagers when accompanied by an attractive older woman. Whilst not many people’s first choice of director for adapting a novel about a school for witchcraft and wizardry, Cuarón’s trademarks of floating, insightful cinematography and complex, fantastical characters perfectly suits the world of Harry Potter, and ultimately resulted in arguably the greatest film in the series.

‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ serves as a clear turning point for the films, and to show that the stories are descending into darker and more complex themes, Cuarón is quick to introduce the menacing characters of Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black, as well as sinister phantoms – the Dementors. Often these intriguing elements of the story are seen as the clearest moment that the franchise changes in tone, but what is also often overlooked is the introduction of some great humour into the story that injects life into films that could all-too-easily become repetitive, as well as emphasising what is at stake in the moments of darkness. Scenes such as Harry’s trip on the night bus and the directors choice to allow the cast to wear their Hogwarts uniforms however they wanted provides the film with a more light-hearted tone, and creates a better relatability between those on-screen and the audience, allowing the viewer to become better invested in the story.

As previously mentioned, Alfonso Cuarón is often cited as a modern master of storytelling through cinematography, and ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ is no exception. Often many of the locations used within the film have already been introduced to the viewer before anything important happens there. Simple moments within the narrative such as a bird flying through the grounds of Hogwarts may seem relatively unimportant in the moment, but actually introduce us to a clear layout of the school, allowing the film to flow smoothly from one scene to the next later on without having to make reference to how one location is linked to another. Furthermore, the themes of the film are often very clearly visually referenced whilst being explored within the narrative. For example, the time-turner used by Hermione and Harry allows them to travel back in the hopes of finding a way to free Sirius Black later on in the film, but as they move through the corridors in the hopes of liberation, the camera glides along behind them, only to travel through the inner workings of a giant clock, representing clearly their utilisation of such a device. This idea is later reinforced when they return from their adventure, and the camera travels back through the clock, visually articulating the journey that the two characters have just been on.

It is this clear attention to both narrative and visual detail that makes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban arguably the greatest in the series, as well as serving as a great demonstration for Alfonso Cuarón being one of the best directors working today. Though many may label the Harry Potter series as not being for adults, this film serves as a testament to the fact that even young adult stories deserve the same level of detail and care as any others being told.

The Fugitive – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward and Julianne Moore
Written by Jeb Stuart and David Twohy
Directed by Andrew Davis
Length: 130mins

When the wife of a loving surgeon (Ford) is killed, her husband is arrested and sent to death row. During a bus crash en route to prison he escapes and the game of cat and mouse begins. A police detective (Jones) determined to catch his fugitive, and the fugitive determined catch his wife’s murderer whilst clearing his name. This film was not predicted to carry the success that it did, it was even rumoured that the actors believed the film could have damaged their careers. But with the clear, brilliant vision of Andrew Davis at the helm, a potential box office flop, turned into a smash hit and highly accoladed movie that would be considered a true classic.

The Fugitive’s success relies significantly on how plausible the action feels; though not something that you would hear in the news every day it feels realistic that the husband of a murder victim would be seriously investigated and, dependent on evidence (or lack thereof) charged. Also the fact that his ‘escape’ wasn’t a spontaneous, highly skilled prison break, but more of a grief stricken man making the most of an opportunity and driven by injustice. It’s refreshing and interesting to see an action based thriller with focal characters who are more ordinary, intelligent and successful, but still normal. It really opens up the opportunity for the audience to empathise with the situation.

The brilliance of this movie is a combination of the performances, direction and the clever editing. Harrison Ford’s character, Dr Kimble, is so interesting. Most of his performance is with just a small amount dialogue, meaning the bulk of his action is so heavily reliant on the physical transformation and portrayal, Dr Kimble speaks through his actions. Tommy Lee Jones earned an Academy Award for his work as Samuel Gerard. He is just outstanding, the audience really gets to walk through the whole situation with Gerard and it’s a fascinating watch, to have the two sides of this chase just enhances the build in suspense. The relationship between the characters is enunciated by the brilliant editing team (who also achieved Oscar nominations), the chase scenes cut between the two characters and you find that there are parallels between the two characters, making it wonderfully symmetrical. Andrew Davis, who had previously worked with Tommy Lee Jones, managed to turn a plot that could have easily ended up boring and predictable into a canvas for the two leading actors to play and push their characters, with brilliant results.

After it’s unexpected but well deserved box office success, The Fugitive has gone on to be considered a front to back classic and is timeless in it’s brilliance. It’s an exciting experience full of really brilliant moments and is well worth a watch.

The Host – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doo-na
Written by Bong Joon-ho, Baek Chul-hyun, Ha Jun-won
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Length: 120mins

Often when a filmmaker creates a work that is as highly praised as ‘Parasite,’ you can trace through their earlier work to understand how they developed their style in a way that would ultimately result in such a film. In the case of Bong Joon-ho, this is absolutely true, and his 2006 socially-aware action-adventure ‘The Host’ has all the markings of someone on their way to making a great film.

Tackling the continuously growing issue of pollution in a modern society, Bong Joon-ho utilises the format of American blockbusters such as ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Jaws’ to create a monster of his own. Born from the carelessness of American scientists in a South Korean lab, pollutants that are dumped into the Han River soon corrupt the local wildlife, resulting in one movie-antagonist sized monster. Of course, these things are never so simple, and to make matters worse this latest mutation is accompanied by a deadly virus that spreads from any contact with the creature. Following a family who run a local café on the banks of the river, we see how the carelessness of those in power can force everyday people to take matters into their own hands.

In terms of cinematography, Bong Joon-ho is on top form as usual, and between himself and director of photography Kim Hyung-koo, their ability to capture movement within a scene is unparalleled. A focus on handheld camerawork that follows the momentum of any moment allows for each character to display their reaction to a moment of tension or drama without ever distracting from the key part of the scene, which is often the actions of the monster. As well as this, the emotive range that many of the actors display allows for a great amount of non-verbal storytelling. Bong Joon-ho’s long-time friend and collaborator Song Kang-ho once again features as the father figure in the story, and his ability to display his emotions simply through changes in his facial features captures exactly what the characters are experiencing in many of the scenes. Together, the natural feel of the camerawork and its focus on capturing what each of the performers are expressing allows ‘The Host’ to stand out from many others in the genre.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Bong Joon-ho film if there wasn’t a deeper meaning behind everything that’s going on, and between the origin of the monsters creation and the way in which the American media and government step in to mishandle the situation shows clear signs of an anti-western attitude from the director. In contrast to these large organisations in power, the lead family within the narrative own a small independent café that is massively effected by the choices made by those in charge, emphasising the anti-corporate ideology that the film takes on. It soon becomes clear that Bong Joon-ho feels as if elements of his home country have become corrupted by the world superpower, and that nowhere in the world is truly free from the control of the American government.

Amongst all of this, the film still manages to maintain a consistently entertaining action film, with some great moments of humour. ‘The Host’ shows itself to be an all-round great film that understands what many audiences want out of a trip to the cinema, whilst also providing a deeper and more thought-provoking message beneath its grotesque surface.

Eurovision Song Contest – The Story of Fire Saga

Rating: 12A
Cast: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens and Pierce Brosnan
Written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele
Directed by David Dobkin
Length: 123mins

A Netflix release in the height of lockdown amidst Covid:19 fears and concerns, this film carries so much joy and silliness that helps to focus on positives amongst worrying times. Though at first glance it may look like a classic Will Ferrell comedy, surprisingly, it carries some moving moments; these moving moments intertwined with catchy songs, amusing accents, magical Elves and so much more…

Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) has always dreamed of winning the Eurovision Song Contest, with his doe-eyed childhood friend and not quite sweetheart, Sigrit (McAdams). Their band, Fire Saga, was selected at random to compete in the contest, representing their beloved Iceland. The drama that follows the pair is mostly nonsensical, but the story holds its own and keeps moving with the fun of outrageous ‘Eurovision-eque’ songs and dance routines paced throughout the film.

One of the most brilliant elements of this film is that it feels like Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele sat down to write the script and every possible hilarious idea that popped into their heads they wrote down and found a place for it to fit. There is a lot of detail in every scene, nothing is there to just connect the story and with each watch I found myself noticing more intricate choices.

What is truly lovely about this film is that amongst all of the busy, vibrant scenes are really well written characters with whom the audience can connect. Seen by most peripheral characters in the film as ‘freaks’, the performances of the lead pair are full of brilliant choices which allow the characters to feel authentic, if a little ‘out there’. Whilst some of the action is extreme, it doesn’t feel like you’re watching actors perform these characters, you are allowed into their sheltered world which encourages empathy. It almost creeps up on you as you enjoy the comedy and the silliness, then you’re hit with a moment that you can relate to in some way. With themes of perseverance, friendship and chasing your dreams there is something for everyone to take away.

This film isn’t going to change anyone’s life, but it might just lift your spirits. It’s an easy, entertaining watch with positive messages of inclusivity and finding what is important to you. It is worth warning, however, that you will most likely find yourself singing some of Fire Saga’s songs and they are not easy to get out of your head! If you need a bit of a release, a break from the worries of today, I suggest you give it a watch. Let yourself fall into silliness and have a good laugh.

Boyhood – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater
Written by Richard Linklater
Length: 165mins

The career of director Richard Linklater is a particularly interesting one, from his origins as an iconic creator of slacker-comedies in the early 90’s to an almost obsessive insight into the relation that time has on film, it’s no surprise that he would eventually create a film like ‘Boyhood.’ In a similar style to his ‘Before’ trilogy, where the same narrative was picked up each time the filmmakers returned to the trilogy, even with the ten-year gap between films, ‘Boyhood’ became well-known for the director returning to the same actors every year or so in an attempt to accurately portray how they develop throughout their childhood and teen years.

Whilst the creation of the film features an interesting and unique approach to filmmaking, the whole elaborate plan would be completely irrelevant if the final product turned out to be a bad film. In the case of ‘Boyhood’ this isn’t exactly true, as the characters are often engaging, and their emotional journey throughout the film is interesting and will most likely resonate with many of the audience. The monotonous suburban lifestyle put to screen is one that is fairly atypical in recent years, and the fads and styles that litter the narrative will be familiar to anyone who grew up during the turn of the millennium. However, a film shouldn’t simply rely on an audience being able to compare their own lives with that of the characters to be successful, it should create an interesting and engaging story of its own. Whilst there are moments of this within ‘Boyhood,’ for a film that boasts a near-three hour runtime, there aren’t nearly enough elements of intrigue or excitement to really grab the audience’s attention. It could be argued that this isn’t the film’s intent, and rather its aim is to document the often underwhelming elements of adolescence, and in this way it would succeed if the characters were portrayed to be people that we could invest ourselves and our own experiences in.

One of the most difficult elements of a project such as this would most likely be maintaining a clear consistency across every scene. A cut between one scene and the next could be a difference of a year both within the film and the real world, and so ensuring that both the technical aspects and the performances don’t feature noticeable changes would have been difficult undertaking. Whilst the film is successful in its aesthetic continuity, the performances can often feel subdued, as if a low-energy approach to the characters will ensure that there are very few changes in their presence onscreen. In particular, the films lead, Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane) is often sullen and unenthusiastic, which does accurately represent most teenagers, but provides little interest when he’s featured in all but two scenes within the films 165 minute runtime. By the end of the film, you are left with very knowledge of any of the character’s interests or passions – save for one – and the relationships that he develops with those around him throughout the story feel fairly surface level. There are some great scenes that really shine through, such as his mother’s sudden outburst of emotion moments before the Mason Jr heads for college, but there aren’t nearly enough for a film that is working on as grand a scale a this one.

There is a clear beauty to ‘Boyhood,’ and the cinematography captures the simple intrigues of everyday life in a consistently interesting style – an impressive feat for a film that’s shot over the course of seven years. However, ‘Boyhood’ ultimately feels as if it contains a lot of missed potential. No doubt Richard Linklater will have more tricks up his sleeve in the future, and may attempt a project as lengthy as this this one again, but for now we should at least be thankful that his ‘Before’ trilogy turned out as well as it did.