Astonishing, transcendent, relatable, sobering. All words that describe Richard Linklater’s sweeping coming-of-age tale, gradually debuting in theaters this week. Boyhood is a fictional drama of an ordinary boy, it refrains from bending to typical Hollywood melodramatics and plot twists.
Filmed over the span of 12 years, Boyhood follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a boy raised within a fractured American family. Mason and his sister Samantha (Linklater’s daughter, Lorelai Linklater) undergo dramatic physical changes during the course of the movie as they, literally, grow up before our eyes.
Mason’s mom (Patricia Arquette) struggles at love, her nuptials play a significant role in shaping, to varying degree, Mason’s upbringing. For instance, young Mason and Samantha witness their parents argue about whatever-it-is separated couples argue over, all the while wishing their parents will make the family whole again – a sobering stab at a divorce-happy culture. A few years pass and Mason is navigating life with an alcoholic step-father at the helm. Mason’s step-father demands a buzz-cut that incites anger and humiliation within the boy. These are feelings anyone may have felt at some point in their life, making Boyhood all the more relatable. Mason’s dad (Ethan Hawke) occasionally sweeps in with a nugget of reason that rights the ship, but it’s a constant reminder of the importance of both partners in raising their children.
Linklater establishes a mastery of time and relevancy in these meticulously woven images of Mason’s childhood. In one moment, Mason and his family enjoy the spoils of the latest Harry Potter book release. The next, Mason is explaining his refusal of technology and social media so prevalent in today’s society. Linklater binds the movie together with a soundtrack apropos to the narrative’s period in time.
There’s nothing particularly climactic about the film. It’s epic in its own unusual and, often provocative ordinariness. It’s also an astonishing examination of people that are very grounded and relatable. It works in a way that is oddly fascinating.
My criticism’s are picky, to say the least. We spend plenty of time with Mason, but I often felt drawn toward Lorelai Linklater’s performance. She’s equally, if not more interesting than her sibling. Coltrane is not a bad actor, Lorelai is an exceptional actress.
At over 3 hours, Boyhood is a marathon event. The movie is paced very well and every scene is deserving of its existence, but there is an investment in time that has to be considered when consuming this film. It is, however, highly recommended viewing.