If you’re hoping to be thoroughly entertained by life’s crazy out of the world experiences, or glean some profound enlightening insight,then Boyhood is not that kind of movie.Strip it down to its core, and it’s wholly based on the genuine.Life,love and loss are,to the great success of this film,organic. It’s easy to watch because it’s so relatable,watching Boyhood felt like we were living Boyhood. The events in Mason,our protagonist’s life,will make for a difficult but necessary journey for young Mason to waddle through, and make something worthwhile for himself.
The story begins with Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) and his life from age 6 to 18.Mason grows up in a household where problems with marriage, alcoholism and violence threaten to tear it apart.It does break the household, but only so much as to allow young Mason to grow from such disorder and confusion. Sympathy is drawn to the fact that mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) is divorced,and works frantically to support the family single-handedly.In the midst of it all,Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) has come back after years away to ‘discover himself’, he vows to spend more time with the kids. Irresponsible as he may seem, Ethan Hawke makes the character easy to understand, and one who looks genuinely changed for the better. I find myself relishing moments between Mason, sister Samantha and Mason Sr, like light in the confusing gloom.
Boyhood leaves no holds barred in the detail to realism. Olivia is constantly holding the weight of the family on her own, and her search from husband to husband is pathetically tragic. The first husband she re-marries is drunkard and control-freak.The second is another mess. Her only solace are her children. It is worthwhile to discuss Olivia’s role in the film, and I feel that although she does not get the ‘happy’ ending she deserves (she’s alone,and slightly broken), at least her love has transcended through to her children,despite the tumultuous environment. Patricia Arquette has successfully merged the vulnerable woman and the loving mother.
With a film that is not concerned with the artistic or the metaphorical,its success depends much on the ability to create an organic story, the acting, dialogue and plot progression. This comes in the form of a successfully constructed bildungsroman.For those unfamiliar with the word, it is used to describe a protagonist’s coming of age story,and how he has at the end, been enlightened and more mature. What makes Mason’s story arguably a true bildungsroman, is when presented with difficulty/choice, Mason is willing to make a choice.This brings him to new experiences so that he is able to make something meaningful for himself,and better shape his identity. Evidently,his philosophical musings are not a sign of confusion,but a mark of his progression in life, an affirmation of the person he wishes to be.
Richard Linklater’s work here is exceptional. Effortless, yet complex, it is a projection of life itself. I found myself tearing a few times because the film is a reflection of our lives, its no sugar-coating kind of realism is genuinely heart-warming. It is a long film, but every part is purposeful and intimate,and ever so ready to connect. The closing scene where Mason joins his newfound friends to explore the world is the one artistic expression of the film that shows the future shaped anew by the experiences of his past. Ultimately, time in Boyhood is not merely transitory but a collection of happiness and sadness, tears and joy, each so naturalistically presented. The beauty of the film lies in it being almost cathartic, as the characters each find their own solace and triumph from life’s tribulations; And this has touched us.