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In the Dark

Seized by the Moment

Boyhood
Produced and distributed by IFC
Directed and written by Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood became the critics’ darling upon its staged release at the end of 2014.  From The New Yorker to the Daily News, reviewers have vied with one another to sing its praises.  Most of them think it’s a natural coming of age film.  They’re dead wrong.

The one thing that can be said accurately of the film is that it’s an unmistakably American product.  Whether this is a matter for applause or scorn, I can’t say with certainty.  From my intentionalist’s point of view, much depends on Linklater’s purpose, which, if not inscrutable, is difficult to flush out.  This is perfectly understandable in a work delivered as a faux cinéma vérité.  Authorial directions are silent.

For me, the question of how to understand the narrative comes down to this: Is it neorealist or satiric?  If the first, the film is a shapeless, pretentious work.  If the latter, then it’s a quietly astringent indictment of the way much of America conducts its parenting today.  I am going to assume Link later intends the second.

Twelve years ago, Linklater selected two children—a girl of eight (Lorelei Linklater, his own daughter), and a...

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