Richard Linklater directs a film chronicling a 12-year period in the life of Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane). Astonishingly the original cast was filmed over that period of time and as a result the characters age as the story progresses. Mason Jr. lives with his mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette), and Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). His father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), is a sporadic presence in his life. The film not only chronicles the life of Mason Jr., but indirectly shows the life trajectory and progression of Mason’s family.
As Olivia continues to make poor decisions in terms of her love life, she does her best to provide for her family. As a struggling single mom, the family is forced to move several times throughout the storyline. As a result, Mason Jr. is limited in achieving significant long-term relationships, aside from his immediate family. The maturation of the main character is really the focus and catalyst to the project.
Mason Jr. is an ordinary boy. He isn’t a superhero. He doesn’t fight crime. He isn’t defending the planet against aliens, Transformers or intelligent apes. He is simply a young man, who like so many of his peers, has outstanding moments interspersed amongst some unremarkable ones. If you are looking for a movie full of action, this is not the film for you. Amongst the reasons this film is entirely authentic, besides the obvious fact of the director’s choice decision in terms of filming, is that like so many of us, life’s highlights are intermittent. I’m not sure about you, but not every one of my years of life has been particularly memorable. This is what Linklater has so brilliantly captured in this movie.
Linklater provides subtle clues when transitioning between years. The audience is hinted either via popular songs of that year (which helped bring forth some nostalgic moments in my own life), different haircuts/styles and simply by the genuine aging on the actor’s faces. The film does not scapegoat behind some tragic circumstance or event (thematically speaking) to garner sympathy or attention from the viewer. Boyhood is a movie about a boy. It’s a movie about a boy, who like all of us, grows up. Boyhood is a movie you should see. It is a magnificent film and the quiet frankly the best film of the year. Boyhood is the film I wish I had written, it’s that good.
The acting was superb. The subtle touches only emphasize the authentic nature of the film. I was lost in watching this boy age into a young adult. I felt like I was really following the life of Mason Jr., almost like a string of video graphic vignettes. Boyhood is a movie I shall not forget. Some critics have panned the ending as too abrupt. To me, it was perfect in that each year of our lives doesn’t end with a happy and definitive conclusion. Life is continuous, until it is not, and most importantly it is ephemeral. Not every moment of your existence is going to be remarkable. That’s just life.
*The film was Rated R. I just wanted to note that I’ve seen some PG-13 movies that were more inappropriate for young audiences.
MPAA Rating: R (language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use)
Running Time: 166 minutes
My Grade: A
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