So I may be a little behind the times when it comes to the Oscar-nominated film ‘Boyhood,’ but after recently watching it, I felt it was big enough that I wanted to write a review/post about it. By now, you most likely already know the plot line for the movie, but just in case you don’t, here is the gist of it. Set and filmed over the course of 12 years, ‘Boyhood’ follows the life of a boy named Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) from childhood into his young-adult college years. The story is set in varying parts of Texas and features a main cast of his mother (played by Patricia Arquette), sister (Lorelei Linklater), and father (Ethan Hawke). Following this cast and the characters they portray over the 12-year span, you are given an inside look at the struggles they face as a family and how real-word issues have an impact on all parties involved.
The most astounding thing (for lack of a better word) to me about this film is the sheer commitment, dedication and work that was necessary to achieve such a long-term film. 12 years is how long it took to make this film. For 12 years, these actors, directors and producers dedicated their time to a project in which they would not see the immediate result of. Getting caught up in a day-to-day hustle, some of us (myself included) can lose interest in projects that last longer than a week, maybe even a couple of days. The fact that those involved in this movie, especially the actors, managed to hold their interest and keep their characters as they, themselves grew in the real world, absolutely amazes me and deserves all the attention it has received.
Second to that, the plot of the movie may have been somewhat underwhelming when taken at face value. It did not have a ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ per say, but it is my belief that it was not the Director’s intention. As mentioned in an interview with TheDissolve.com, Director Richard Linklater discusses how he felt that “perception and identification would carry it.” This, to me, meaning that the audience being able to identify with the events of the cast, and taking away multiple “meanings” from the film, was more important than a singular climatic experience.
In particular, what resonated with me was the various life events that had an impact on Mason as he grew up. Director Linklater also discussed in the same interview with TheDissolve.com how the character of Mason was a combination of his personal experience and the personality of Ellar, the actor portraying Mason. The movie follows significant events through the eyes of Mason, such as growing up in a split household, with the primary caretaker being a single mom, having multiple temporary (and in both cases, drunken and abusive) father figures, and the ever-present peer pressure that surrounds kids of all ages. All of these factors played a roll in the development of Ellar’s on-screen character and how he came to see the world.
The movie closes with Mason, now in college, exploring the world, as he and his new-found set of friends embark on a hiking trip. When he takes a seat on a hillside with who seems to be a future girlfriend, talking with her about the meaning of life, you realize that Mason has grown to become a curious character who may be introverted, but his views on the world around him are anything but dull. As the screen fades to black, we are left to wonder what will happen for Mason and where life will take him once he leaves that hillside.
Like I mentioned before, the dedication, time and work that went into this film, combined with the message that it portrays about how life events impact the person we are today has made me a huge fan of this film. I strongly encourage anyone to take the time to watch.