I say this seriously that Boyhood is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, perhaps the finest of 2014. It’s amazingly made and the director Richard Linklater has become a scrupulously modern rule-breaker, in this rare movie which defines the generation and yes with an old-fashioned sense of artistry that provides the missing link between a modern, independent, aesthetic and studio-era storytelling skills. Boyhood is an experience that resonates moviegoers through the thread of outlandish humanism persistent of the struggles of a boy. It is a film about life.
The waters of childhood, treading pencil, scribbling and drawings on the wall, piling of wool rags, eyelids wide open and playing maracas, the first day of the school, standing up to the bully in the school bathroom, going camping with dad, the first time talking to a girl, teasing in those innocence, drinking beer for the first time and in this hullabaloos, beat them all and drift, we get the drift all the way. Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, is all about the drift. This is a unique, tremendous, intuitive movie about growing up and their images awareness of life purpose, a coming-of-age film with a relaxed naturalism that you’ve literally never seen before.
Boyhood is sporadically made over a span of 12 years with the same cast (between May 2002-Oct 2013), shows the growth of the young man of his thought provoking journey from watchful childhood to self-possessed adulthood. Remarkably, Linklater’s film defines an essential compassion for his protagonists, a very Frank Capra twine, though with mordant edge that ousts the trace of naivety. Looking at Linklater’s earlier work has been remarkable and has proved as a wide-ranging subjects as he is sheer fertile with some of his best known films like ‘Slacker’; the lo-fi animated experiments of ‘Waking Life’; trilogy of ‘Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight’ and through to the mainstream discovery of ‘School of Rock’; ‘Dazed and Confused‘; to the historical fiction of ‘Me and Orson Welles’ and the murderous tragicomedy of ‘Bernie’, and so on.
Conversely, it is not simply a film. The Boyhood is based on the character of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Mason is a Texan boy of charming six years old, lives with his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Mason’s world orbits around him learning how to react to its demands, its challenges and his reflection on his mother. Olivia decides to move her family to attend the University of Houston, to complete her degree, and get professional work at Houston.
Mason’s father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), who works at Houston, takes his kids careening and drops them home at regular interval. There is also a situation when Mason Sr. holds arguments with Olivia as Mason and Samantha watch from their window. Olivia marries Professor Bill, as two families blend including two children from a previous marriage. Olivia continues her education and is supportive of Bill’s strict parenting style. Though, Bill becomes unmannerly as alcoholism takes over his life and this leaves Olivia to move her family and file for divorce. Years pass as Mason Sr. learns that his daughter Samantha has a boyfriend, as a concerned father talks about care and contraception, besides his camping with Mason to Pedernales falls state park.
Mason and Samantha grow into their new lives in San Marcos, a town close to Austin. On the other side their mother Olivia teaches psychology at college and marries her student Jim (Brad Hawkins), veteran of the Afghanistan/Iraq War. Mason grows up as a teenager, experiments with marijuana and alcohol and receives attention from girls. On his fifteenth birthday, his father Mason Sr, get married again and with a baby, takes Mason and Samantha to visit his wife’s parents. He presents his son the suit of a mix CD of Beatles songs. His step-grandparents give him a personalized Bible and a vintage shotgun. This yields Mason’s interest into photography. Mason gets introduced to a girl Sheena at the party, and tend to love each other. One night after Mason arrives home late from a party, Jim confronts at his house that stays a bad taste and later Olivia decides to divorce Jim.
In stint, the film show Mason’s painful breakup with Sheena, moves on to win the state photography contest and achieves scholarship money for his education. Besides Mason’s family pitch a graduation party and toasts for his success with Mason Sr. candid exchange with his son. Moving onward Olivia asks her children to sort their possessions as she plans to sell the flat and in that incision she breaks down of her thorough disappointment in her life and her relentless wrestling with the rigours of single parenthood and the traumas of abusive relationships.
The climax takes Mason out with his roommate’s girlfriend over the hiking to Big bend national park as he consumes drug, as both of them talk about seizing the moment as Mason agrees……
Watching this film is complete hitherto, a revelatory experience. Linklater’s approach is aimless and ambling, so is life. The characters spin and grow beyond the control and twelve years of those complex efforts appears so casual, the primary focus on all the cinematic charms and the unusual nonexistence of voyeurism fascinates each one of us. Going by the word of Linklater, his writing is intuitive and warm, with the unvaryingly excellent cast led by Coltrane who grows in confidence as an actor without ever compromising the film’s naturalism. The real scene stealer though is Arquette, as Olivia exhilarating in her struggle as a single mother and her determination to make a better life for her kids is so poignant, profound and reflecting. You also have Ethane Hawke and his combination with Richard Linklater as director-actor seals so without doubt.
The audiences experience the weight of time into those nostalgic stances of constant presence and emphases on the moments amid the milestones in life are incredible. The squandering of each ones childhood beneath lays simplicity. The greatest movies are the ones that stick with us, are those that hold up a mirror to the human condition and reflect something back at us that we too often manage to overlook and this are distinctive and such is the consequence of this movie. Perhaps this is the key to Linklater’s film making and if you still believe life is in the little details– Boyhood definitely remain as the significant films of the twenty-first century
- Produced & Directed by Richard Linklater
- Co-Produced by Cathleen Sutherland; Jonathan Sehring & John Sloss
- Written by Richard Linklater
- Cast: Ellar Coltrane; Patricia Arquette; Lorelei Linklater & Ethan Hawke
- Cinematography: Lee Daniel & Shane Kelly
- Edited by Sandra Adair
- Distributed by IFC Films
- Release date: January 19, 2014 (Sundance Film Festival)
- Running time of 165 minutes
- Country: US
- Language: English