Boyhood

image2resize

DIR/WRI: Richard Linklater  PRO: Richard Linklater, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland   DOP: Lee Daniel, Shane F. Kelly  ED: Sandra Adair   DES: Rodney Becker, Gay Studebaker  CAST: Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

Filmed over a period of twelve years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s innovative Boyhoood is the first of its kind.  The film traces the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from the age of six years old in 2002 to the verge of young adulthood and maturity.  Following the film’s striking first shot of the young, daydreaming Mason, Linklater portrays his handling of key life experiences such as the aftermath of his parents’ divorce and his mother’s ensuing relationships, undergoing puberty, falling in love and eventually leaving the family nest for college.

There is no doubt in arguing that Linkater’s pioneering filmmaking idea is a success.  This is because the use of the same actor to play Mason over a twelve-year period gives the film a sense of realism that makes it impossible not to become emotionally involved with his character.  It is as if we are watching a documentary that allows us to grow up with him and to share his experiences.  Therefore, the film is able to secure an emotional connection without the use of emotive music, opting instead for pop music released during the period of 2002 and 2014.  However, it can be argued that towards the end of the film, the emotional attachment to Mason begins to wane.  This is because his melancholic, teenage angst makes it more difficult to connect with him.  Nevertheless, his quirky personality ensures that he is not completely deprived of his likeability.

It is also impressive that that despite the long filming period, the film still maintains a sense of aesthetic continuity.  Clearly, the film was shot and edited with great focus and discipline in order to give the impression that it was filmed in a few weeks, rather than a period of over a decade.  Moreover, the visual continuity also affirms Linklater’s status as one of the noteworthy auteurs of this generation.

However, the film also reveals Linklater’s development as a filmmaker.  For example, instead of typically relying just on loaded, philosophical dialogue, he allows the characters and the long filming period to imply his philosophical ideas for much of the film.  This is clear from the film’s sense of timelessness.  In other words, it is implied that no matter how much music, trends or political frenzies change over a period of twelve years, what it means to be human and to grow up will always remain the same.  Also, the character of Mason‘s mother Olvia (Patricia Arquette) is used to infer, without any heavy dialogue, that adulthood is only an illusion; no matter how many experiences and important life events one lives through, there is always that permanent feeling of being lost, or of not having reached the point where it all comes together.

Overall, Boyhood is a significant piece of filmmaking and a worthwhile experimentation on the part of Linklater.  There are few out there who could make a simple documentation of growing up into something artistic and absorbing; it proves to show that with the right director, even the simple things can make sagas.

Aisling Daly

15A (See IFCO for details)
165 mins

Boyhood is released on 11th July 2014

Boyhood – Official Website

Share

Begin Again

begin again

DIR/WRI: John Carney  PRO: Tobin Armbrust, Anthony Bregman  DOP: Yaron Orbach  ED: Andrew Marcus   DES: Chad Keith  MUS: Gregg Alexander  CAST: Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, James Corden, Mark Ruffalo

“A true New York story about the magical opportunities that can be found under this great city’s bright lights,” is how John Carney describes his latest film Begin Again.  Featuring musical contributions from names such as Danielle Brisbois, Gregg Alexander and Glen Hansard, Begin Again is a musical comedy-drama that upholds Carney’s belief in the power of musical collaboration to bring lost souls together, as previously seen in his 2006 film Once.

The film stars Keira Knightley and Adam Levine as Gretta and Dave, a long-term couple and songwriting partnership who move to New York where Dave lands a deal with a major label. When Gretta finds herself alone following a betrayal, she meets disgraced record label executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo) at an East Village open mic.  Captivated by her raw talent, Dan insists on a musical collaboration with Gretta in order to harbour the musical authenticity they both value.

While the film could have potentially fallen into the trap of simply ‘Americanising’ the Once scenario, it nonetheless holds its own.  Moreover, the film evokes a sense of universality, as both English and American humour and mannerisms are successfully combined together in a well-written screenplay that can be equally appreciated by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.  However, Carney relies on more than just words for his storytelling power, as he aptly incorporates music into the film in order to expose what happens beyond the dialogue; throughout the film, music is shown to reveal the true nature of relationships and personalities, while at the same time bringing the simple urban surroundings of New York to life.

Furthermore, while Knightley and Ruffalo have a charming on-screen relationship as Gretta and Dan, the most likeable pairing is actually Gretta and her busking friend Steve (James Corden).  This is largely due to the fresh source of comic relief provided by Corden, which works well with the sharp comments of the unassuming yet opinionated Gretta. This is emphasised by the documentary, ‘fly on the wall’ style of the film, which make the character interactions seem genuine.

However, despite the film’s claims of promoting musical authenticity, it nevertheless falls victim to the commercialism that it tries to overthrow.  Knightley’s supposedly ‘live’ vocals are clearly processed by Auto-Tune, therefore depriving Gretta’s music of its rawness and transforming it into a commodity.  It is also difficult to ignore the fact that Gretta never really achieves independence over her own music as Dan, like a true big-label producer, seems to have total control over the production of the album they set out to record.  This would be forgivable if the film included one stand-out song such as that of ‘Falling Slowly’ in Once.  Unfortunately, the soundtrack lacks such a song, which may come as a disappointment to fans of Carney’s previous musical offering.  Moreover, Carney tends to overestimate the power of music to change one’s life for the better, as the outcome of one particular character’s individual story seems too good to be true.  Therefore, like the film’s music, the plot ultimately becomes subject to formulaic mass-production, rather than achieving a sense of authenticity.

While Begin Again does have its obvious contradictions, its fresh wit, likeable cast and musical plot progression gives it the potential to be the ‘feel good’ film of the summer months once it has its Irish premiere at Galway Film Fleadh.

Aisling Daly

15A (See IFCO for details)
103 mins

Begin Again is released on 11th July 2014

Begin Again – Official Website

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwLuDO_Cxfc&feature=kp

Share

Cycling with Molière

moliere

DIR/WRI: Philippe Le Guay PRO:  DOP: Jean-Claude Larrieu ED: Monica Coleman   DES: Françoise Dupertuis  MUS: Jorge Arriagada CASTFabrice Luchini, Lambert Wilson, Maya Sansa

Known for his charming dramedies, French writer-director Philippe le Guay presents his latest offering Cycling with Molière (Alceste à Bicyclette), a clever, postmodern reworking of Molière’s classic The Misanthrope.  Transposing the play’s theme to the modern-day setting of île-de-Ré off the coast of France, the film follows successful actor Gauthier Valence (Lambert Wilson), as he travels to the island in order to convince fellow actor and long-term friend Serge Tanneur (Fabrice Luchini) to act in his production of Molière’s renowned comedy of manners.  However, Tanneur, who has banished himself to a dilapidated family home on the island following a period of depression, insists that he has retired from acting due to his animosity towards those in the industry.  Nevertheless, both his love of Molière and his desire to play the protagonist Alceste encourages him to consider starring in the play.  What follows is an amusing, week-long long series of rehearsals as both actors alternate playing the roles of Alceste and Philinte, while at the same time battling with their egos as their mutual desire to star as Alceste takes over.

The driving force of the film is indeed the heated interactions between Tanneur and and Valence during the rehearsal sessions, which never fail to amuse.  More importantly, it is through the relationship between these characters that le Guay skilfully re-fashions The Misanthrope.  Tanneur, a bitter cynic who avoids human society, is clearly a modern-day Alceste, as his powerful rehearsals of Alceste’s infamous lines reveal his similarities with the character’s critical attitude towards 17th century social habits and hypocrisy.  On the other hand, Valence echoes Philinte’s role of the conformist, as he agrees to alternate the roles of Alceste and Philinte in order to keep the peace.  The film’s inclusion of a love interest in the form of Italian divorcee Francesca (Maya Sansa) is also a clever plot device, as it reinforces the film’s pessimistically comic aspect that links it to The Misanthrope.  Therefore, le Guay has successfully created a comedy of manners about a comedy of manners, so to speak.

Courteous of cinematographer Jean-Claude Larrieu, the film’s picturesque depiction of the surrounding île-de-Ré area adds a sense of warmth to the film, serving as an antidote to the antagonistic relationship between Tanneur and Valence.  This scenic portrayal of the island provides an interesting contrast to the rehearsal scenes, in which the focus is just on Serge and Tanneur.  This is useful in removing any surrounding distractions in order to emphasise the centrality of the two characters to the film’s re-working of The Misanthrope.  However, out of the two actors, Luchini particularly shines in his role as Tanneur, effectively bringing the comic ‘misanthropy’ of the character to life.

Nevertheless, the plot of the film is not without its share of hitches.  The attempts at slapstick comedy serve no purpose to the story, while a sub-plot involving a local porn star (Laure Bordesoules) is suddenly written out before it gets the chance to take off.  Likewise, a scenario involving Valence and a persistent taxi-driving fan never reaches a sufficient conclusion. Despite these unnecessary distractions however, the relationship between Tanneur and Valence is enough to hold the audience’s attention until the end.

 

Aisling Daly

15A (See IFCO for details)
100 mins

Cycling with Molière is released on 4th July 2014

Cycling with Molière – Official Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share