Movie ReviewsRating: 5 of 5 yaps
Maybe the moment seizes you?
“Boyhood” was filmed over the course of twelve years, chronicling the fictional life of Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from first grade to college. We watch him grow from a boy to a young man. “Boyhood” focuses on little moments. We don’t see Mason’s friendships form, we don’t see him kiss his first girl, go on his first date. We see the post-breakups, we see one particularly memorable night with his friends in Junior High School. The movie is better for it. Richard Linklatter, the writer and director, has created a uniquely humanistic movie about life. It is devoid of cynicism (but not tragedy) and does not concern itself the least bit with death. “Boyhood” is about the moments that make an individual life, and how every minute, no matter how ‘important,’ is significant in its own way. It is truly epic.
Mason is contextualized by his parents, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) and Olivia (Patricia Arquette). They are magic. The two start the movie divorced, with Mason Sr. nowhere to be found; as the years pass, we come to understand why he was gone, and we come to understand where the two of them are going in their separate lives, and how that affects Mason’s life. Neither parent is a saint, and neither becomes a caricature. Mason’s relationship with them changes over the years, but it never feels less than genuine.
Writer-director Richard Linklatter started the film in 2002, when Coltrane was 7 years old, and shooting ended in 2013. Hawke described it as “shooting a short film every year.” It never comes across as a gimmick. Conversations about the Iraq War, about the end of the “Star Wars” series in the mid-2000s, about the election of Obama, feel authentic, real. The movie is constantly “now,” even when “now” was a decade ago. It is always in the moment. There is a perfect symmetry between the way “Boyhood” was produced and what the film ultimately conveys. I can’t imagine another film quite like this.
Watching Coltrane, Hawke, and Arquette (not to mention Linklatter’s daughter, Loreli, who plays Mason’s sister) grow and age on screen made me feel connected to them, in a way I hadn’t expected. There is a point in the middle of the film where Coltrane obviously experiences a growth spurt. It’s unintended comedy, it’s very relatable.
I described “Boyhood” as ‘Epic,’ and it is. In scope, in emotion, in length, it is an undertaking, a full-immersion experience into a world and a reality. You fall in love with the characters, all of them. The movie ends when Mason moves to college, saying goodbye to boyhood. I could have watched past that, I could have watched forever. But I took a lot of the film with me. I thought about it for several days. I saw it again. I’m still thinking about it.
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