Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette
Conceptually speaking, ‘Boyhood’ is a transcendent movement in the world of film. By creating a film over a 12 year period, director Richard Linklater has officially raised the bar for directors everywhere. I mean, to film one movie, for 12 years, it’s preposterous! But it worked beautifully. As of now, what Linklater has accomplished is a uniquely successful concept, which could hypothetically open the door for other directors to follow suit. Anyone with aspirations to work in the film industry should be inspired by the achievements of ‘Boyhood’, and challenge the moneymaking nature of Hollywood. At least for me, this film has given me an optimism that a few, artistically intrepid creators will attempt their own decade-long biopics in the future, and that a desire for a deeper aestheticism will become the standard once again.
Tracking the development of a young boy on his journey through life, ‘Boyhood’ introduces Ellar Coltrane as Mason and proceeds to follow his personal progression from the age of 5 through to 18. As a viewer, we witness Mason transform from a curious young child, to an apprehensive pre-teen, to an experimental teenager, to a enlightenment-seeking young man on the cusp of manhood. It’s a journey that all of us have been through; we can relate to the journey that is life, discovering oneself, and our passions. This movie is a subtle reminder not only of what we once were, but what mattered to us and possibly what parts of life’s memories we should revisit. By using the same actor for the entirety of the 12 year filming period, Linklater manages to create a paradoxical experience where we are watching a very raw development of a real human being, under the guise of a fictional film. This is what makes ‘Boyhood’ such an intriguing and ultimately successful film, the fact that the whole ensemble involved, are able to convey such an unerring authenticity throughout.
Supporting performances from Ethan Hawke (Training Day) and Patricia Arquette (Medium), as Mason’s parents, were superb. The highest compliment I can pay the pair, is that they were just as believable as Ellar himself, the three of them combined producing an almost documentary-esque atmosphere. In a most uncanny way, individually they felt and acted like my parents might. The most underrated part of the entire film has to be the parents portrayal of the beautiful task that it is to show unconditional love and unwavering support for children through everything. There is something so pure and unadulterated about it; you can really sense just how much it matters.
That’s what makes ‘Boyhood’ work on so many levels. It is highly believable and pragmatic. We were all kids once who more-than-likely felt similar feelings and experienced the same things as Mason: annoying siblings, comforting parents, and uncertainty about the future. As simple as it is, watching a boy try and figure life out, from the audience’s completely unbiased position, there is much to be learned about being a parent and the importance of honesty and love in a family. Overall, this is progressive filmmaking of the highest quality, setting a lofty standard for the creation of film as an art form. It took Michelangelo almost 5 years to paint the Sistine Chapel, so maybe it’s not such a terrible notion to take one’s time imagining and developing art after all.