The first time I saw the trailer for this one, I was with my husband, Christoph. We were both intrigued by the concept and we knew that, eventually, we’d be back to see Boyhood. How could we pass up the opportunity to watch the product of such a massive undertaking? Months later, Christoph and I made our way to the theater to see what Richard Linklater (Writer / Director) had made out of the footage he filmed of a boy’s life unfolding, over a span of 12 years.
Once in my seat at the theater, I couldn’t wait for the movie to begin. I was curious and excited. I wanted to know what story Linklater was going to tell. What would make this boy’s life so special that it was going to take almost three hours to tell his tale? Was this movie going to be worth the 12-year investment on the part of the filmmakers? Would it be worth my time? Yours? I had so many questions and just as I was beginning to wonder why it had taken me so long to get my butt to the theater to watch this film, the trailers started.
We first meet Mason (Ellar Coltrane) when he’s just six years old. He’s an adorable child and he’s got an adorable sister. Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) is Mason’s older sister and she’s singing a Britney Spears song. She’s dancing around and annoying the hell out of her little brother. Mason is throwing things and shouting at his sister. She woke him up, it’s still early and it doesn’t look like Mason likes Britney Spears much. The kids rile one another up and as they get louder, they eventually wake their mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Mom bursts through the door long enough to tell the kids to shut up and give her one more hour of sleep, and that's it. That is our introduction to the family with which we’ll cry, grow and laugh for the next few hours.
Boyhood is Mason’s story of transformation from an innocent and observant child, into a contemplative young man. This particular coming-of-age story creates a bit of cinematic magic in that it allows us to literally watch a child grow up, change and develop, before our eyes. The storytelling in Boyhood is understated and nuanced to perfection, resulting in an utterly moving experience.
Ellar Coltrane is captivating as Mason. His performance is inspiring and incredibly consistent. While he is most definitely the star of this production, his work as part of an ensemble of rich and highly developed characters, is what makes his performance resonate.
Olivia is wholly relatable and she grounds Mason’s abstract ideals. She’s more than an everywoman, though. Olivia is like everyone--full of mistakes, what ifs and dreams of what’s to come. She keeps hope alive and provides the foundation her family needs to stay connected and feel protected. Patricia Arquette delivers a touching and earnest performance as Mason’s mom. She drives the storyline home, the way only a mother could.
Through patient and ingenious storytelling, Richard Linklater achieves something truly groundbreaking with Boyhood. The juxtaposition of his approach and the grand scale of this cinematic endeavor are intriguing. Throughout the film, Linklater transitions between Mason’s different developmental stages effortlessly, creating a cohesive and complete look into one young man’s life. Boyhood unfolds at a near perfect pace, elegantly developing a premise that inspires Mason to stay curious and hang on to what it feels like to be alive. Linklater has crafted cinematic poetry from the mundane and it is impressive.
I didn’t expect to be moved by this film, but that’s the best way to describe how I felt when the credits began to roll. It was as if I’d grown alongside Mason, rediscovering the wonder that fuels a person’s earliest memories. Boyhood legitimately merits the use of the word epic. It’s a journey of self-discovery that you will not want to miss. Get out there and see it as it was intended, on the big screen. You won't regret it.
Boyhood – A+
A+ = When a movie makes it so that when its over and the credits have rolled…you just want to watch it again, it gets an A+. Mission accomplished. Well done.