Following the life of a young boy from 2002-2014, Boyhood (2014) tells the story of Mason (Ellar Coltran) as he grows from a six-year-old boy quarreling with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) to an eighteen-year-old man about to embark on his college career.
Mason’s upbringing is filled with many tribulations, as is evident from the beginning of the film. We see Mason’s single-parent household, and though the mother remarries several times, these relationships are scarred with alcoholism and abuse. We meet Mason’s father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). Yet from the beginning of Mason’s life, Mason Sr. seems to only appear when it is convenient for him. However, both Mason’s grow; as Mason Sr. learns from his own experiences, he is able to provide his son with life lessons ranging in topics from his passion for photography to difficult breakups. As Mason Jr. leaves for college, he seems prepared to take on his new path and follow his passion.
In fact, it seems as if over the course of the twelve years each character grows for the better – except for the mother. Mason’s mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) experiences several ups and downs throughout her life, including her failed marriages. As her kids grow up and leave her for college, she realises that she has nothing left in life.
Boyhood is written and directed by Richard Linklater, (known for films like Dazed and Confused (1993) and School of Rock (2003) among many others) who made the creative decision to assemble a crew for several weeks each year over the course of twelve years, rather than hiring several actors of various ages for each character. Linklater was also willing to change the script each year to capture and reflect what was happening at that time, both in the world and in the character’s lives. In doing so, Linklater created a film to which most audience members could relate at some period during the narrative.
As we watch Mason grow before our eyes, a younger audience feels the same pressures of growing up and getting into schools, while older audiences see their children’s experiences in the characters. While I laughed at the sibling’s trivial quarrels, which reflected my relationship with my brothers, my mother cried at the children leaving for college- something with which she is familiar. The audience becomes attached to Mason and eagerly watches him grow, hoping for him to find success in his endeavours.
Boyhood is a film worth watching simply because of its uniqueness within the film world, its humour and its wonderful storyline.
Image Credit: empirecinemas.co.uk