R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use.
Running time: 162 minutes.
“Boyhood” is a moving and experimental masterpiece.
The director, Richard Linklater shot “Boyhood” over 12 years, reuniting the cast every year for a few days to film. Set in Texas, the audience witnesses not only a boy age, but also an entire family transform.
We see Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) age from a first grader to a college freshman. Over these years Mason must face challenges such as moving, living in a broken home, going to new schools, being heart-broken, and peer pressure. Progressing seamlessly, we begin to become invested in Mason’s life. The subtle details of the setting and conversations fully immerse the audience into this family and ultimately attaches us. Much of the connection derives from Linklater’s lack of judgment. Both Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke characters have flaws; however, we are made curious about their intentions. Olivia (Arquette), a divorced, single mom, does her best to raise Mason and his older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, Linklater’s daughter). While on the other hand there is Mason Sr. (Hawke), who is the cool dad who comes into down with his vintage car taking the kids to baseball games and bowling alleys. He knows he is not the most reliable father but he truly makes a heartfelt attempt to be apart of his children’s lives.
“Boyhood” does not have a narrative where one can exactly say what happens in this film. It is about the collective impact of the moments that we see. Linklater’s scripts and directing style accentuate naturalism. The authenticity of the character’s conversations and actions seem efforts. Similarly, in Linklater’s “Before” films, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply, there is a natural way the characters expose minor details of their lives which collectively gives the character identity.
As a whole, this project was incredibly risky, maintaining funding, inspiration, and keeping the same cast throughout the entire shoot. Personally, my girlhood is aligned with the time of this film. The progression from the handheld game of 20 Questions to texting intertwined with Oregon Trail and other video games takes the audience down memory lane. In addition, Linklater integrates music of the time including: Britney Spears, “High School Musical” and Arcade Fire. These little details are effective and Linklater’s capturing them is impressive for the fact that he realized what would be significant and resonate with us in 12 years.
There is no way to explain the looming idea of death in this film unless you have seen it. Throughout the film there are moments where you will just cringe and cover your eyes because you get the sense that something bad will happen. That personally made me reflect on my life, there are moments in our innocence where we are carefree and don’t see the danger around us because we are young and invincible. “Boyhood” captures the idea that life is precious and we don’t understand how we are risking it. But I guess taking risks is essential in our childhood and adult hood.
I first saw this film at The Sundance Film Festival and finally saw it a second this summer. I am moved as a film lover and person in general. By the end of the three hours you’ll be connected to each of the character, which are acted so incredibly, that you will not want this film to end.