For those who do not know the background story of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, it would not be wrong for one to assume that the 2014 film is a stereotypical coming-of-age story of a young boy. That, however, is that absolute last type of film that “Boyhood” is.
Usually, movies such as these have a change of actor within the same character role. A child would be cast to play role of the child, a teenager would be cast as the teenager, and an adult would be cast to play the role of an adult because the movies are usually filmed over the span of a year or less. Linklater, however, made the decision to throw caution to the wind and film the same cast, for one week each year, over a span of 12 years (May 2002 to October 2013) and create a movie with an unheard of directing style.
The film focuses around the life events of a boy named Mason Evans Jr., who is portrayed phenomenally by Ellar Coltrane. As a young boy, Mason, Jr. and his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), experience the event that no child wants to have happen, the unfortunate splitting of their parents. Olivia and Mason, Sr. (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) both love their children unconditionally but they themselves cannot live happily amongst one another and file for a divorce.
Unfortunately, this leads to a “broken” childhood for both Mason and Samantha. A majority of it is filled with a drunken father figure who could not give a damn about their happiness or Olivia’s, who is trying extremely hard to create a good life for her children. Mason, Sr., on the other hand, acts as the laid back, free spirited dad who cusses in front of the kids, takes them to sporting events, and just wants to give his kids the best times that they could possibly have.
Over time, we see the kids grow and the parents begin to age… all naturally of course. Friends come and go and both Olivia and Mason Sr. move all across the state of Texas, just trying to make ends’ meet. The rebellious attitudes start in both Mason Jr. and Samantha. Olivia gets told that she is a terrible mother, that they hate her on a daily basis, and that they want to live with their dad. The same exact things that we would say if we were ever in the awkward situation that the kids are in.
As Mason and Samantha progress through their teenage years, the film begins to ask the deeper questions of life that all of us once asked ourselves. What is “normal”? How do I fit in with society? Will I ever amount to anything in life? We see Mason start to make questionable decisions: Drinking with seniors in high school as a freshman, talking about getting “pussy” and how many times they have gotten it, smoking weed and making out with girls who are substantially older than him. All of situations that a majority of high school students go through at some point or another.
Eventually, Samantha goes off to school and we see a drastic drop in her screen time. It is rather unfortunate that she goes from being a main character to virtually not being in the move at all but this allows Mason to grow more as a character. He eventually gets in a relationship with a girl named Sheena, who basically replaces Samantha as the female presence in the second half of the movie. As almost all high school students do, Mason must undergo the trial of unexplained heartbreak when him and Sheena experience problems. Linklater does a great job at capturing all of the yelling, lies, and the eventual depression that sets in after a breakup occurs.
Time presses on and Mason ends up graduating from high school and goes off to college. His mother describes it as being the worst day of her life, just like all mothers do when a child leaves to go to school. Mason, however, is genuinely excited to take the next step and his roommate ends up being exactly like himself. The two end up ditching the “boring college orientation mixer”, and pick up two other attractive girls to go on a hiking trip in the desert. Mason finally finds the group of people that will help him answer life’s crucial questions that the film poses throughout. One of Mason’s newfound friends, Nicole, provides a quote that sums up the movie perfectly. When speaking to Mason, she states, “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, the moment seizes us.”
That is exactly what “Boyhood” is. A collection of laughs, stupid decisions, deep thoughts, and heart-wrenching moments that seize Mason and his family and ultimately leave you wanting more. Who knows, maybe Linklater will try his luck with a film entitled “Adulthood” and follow the same characters for another 12 years? One can only hope.
Rating (Out of 10): 9.8