It can be tough to overcome a traumatic childhood. We are slow to realize when things have gone wrong and can even normalize recurring behaviour that we shouldn’t. Closure can be difficult, especially when we have to remember the past and our brains can easily alter our chemistry in order to “protect” us.
That said, the human brain and soul is resilient, and when we consider matters concerning love and emotion, those tragedies of life can become lessons and turn the ugly into something far more beautiful.
Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Director: Richard Linklater
released on blu-ray January 6, 2015
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Audience Score 81%
The Guardian: *****/*****
I’ve already told you about Richard Linklater once before. He’s one of the greatest directors of all-time in my personal opinion and he has inspired my imagination in more than one instance. I had originally planned on writing about this new movie Don’t Think Twice this week, but then I found out that it wasn’t available on blu-ray, and I was super bummed. So I decided to pick up Boyhood instead, because I still hadn’t seen it, and boy am I glad that I did. I’ve yet to be disappointed by Linklater, and this movie is no exception.
I’m going to go over the plot as best I can, just to give you a taste for it, but please, please, please do me a solid dear readers, and check this movie out for yourselves. This is a unique movie in the scope of movies in that it takes place over a twelve year period inside the film and was literally filmed with the same actors over a twelve year period in oder to demonstrate the rate of change as one grows up.
Taken from Wikipedia and edited somewhat…
In 2002, eight-year-old Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and watch her fight with her boyfriend. In 2003, Olivia moves the family to Houston, to get a degree and better job. Mason’s father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), visits them and promises to be more involved in their lives. Mason Sr. and Olivia argue about the kids. Olivia takes Mason to class, where Mason sees her flirt with professor Bill.
In 2004, Olivia and Bill have married and blended their two families, including Bill’s children from a previous marriage. They share experiences and learn to get along. In 2005, Mason and Samantha bond with their father. Olivia continues school and is initially supportive of Bill’s strict parenting style, up until the forced cutting of Mason’s long hair. Bill becomes an abusive alcoholic. In 2006, Bill assaults Olivia and endangers the kids, Olivia leaves him and takes her kids.
In 2007, Mason Sr. learns that Samantha has a boyfriend and talks to her and Mason about contraception. He and Mason go camping at Pedernales Falls State Park. In 2008, Mason is bullied by other students at school and teased on a camping trip but starts receiving attention from girls. Olivia teaches psychology at college and moves in with Jim, a student and Bosnian/Iraq War veteran.
By 2009, 15-year-old Mason has experimented with marijuana and alcohol. Mason Sr., who has remarried and now has a baby, takes Mason and Samantha to visit his wife’s parents. In 2010, Mason is lectured by his photography teacher, who sees his potential but a lack of ambition. Mason meets Sheena, who becomes his girlfriend. After a late night, a drunk Jim confronts Mason about partying. Olivia and Jim eventually split up.
In 2011, Mason and Sheena visit Samantha at the UofT, where they share their hopes and fears about college. Samantha’s roommate discovers them asleep together in her dorm room.
In 2012, Mason breaks up with Sheena, wins the silver medal in a state photography contest, and is awarded college scholarship money. Mason Sr. gives him advice about his breakup. In 2013, as Mason prepares to leave his mother’s new apartment for college, Olivia breaks down, disillusioned by how fast life’s milestones seem to have passed by.
At Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Mason moves into his dorm room and meets his new roommate Dalton, Dalton’s girlfriend Barb, and Barb’s roommate Nicole. Mason eats a marijuana brownie given to him by Barb and the group goes hiking at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Nicole shares with Mason her belief that, rather than people seizing moments, moments seize us, to which Mason agrees.
Pros: It is amazing to think that something which is a series of footage taken over a twelve year period has the ability to tell a cohesive story and resonate so strongly what it feels like to grow up. It is ambitious and successful in its aspirations.
Cons: You may struggle to find a tight narrative, and on that account you’d be right. Overall it functions as a series of reflective experiences, it’s only in the credits that we begin to see the connections. The runtime could also potentially take you out of it.
Runtime: 2 hours 45 minutes
Points of Interest: If Richard Linklater died at any point during the shoot, Ethan Hawke would have taken over the directorial duties. The film was shot over 45 days but because it happened between May 2002 and August 2013, it works out to over 4000 days. Each year of Mason’s life gets approximately 14 minutes of screen time.
It manages to capture several intersecting ideas all at once, the moments in time from the perspective of an estranged father, the string of stepfathers and odd relationships the children and mother endure as she struggles with her responsibilities, the half-remembered experiences of a youth looking back on his life, the highlights of childhood. The time-lapse method is incredibly well served here and could easily be applied to another other member of the family if you seriously spend the time with each character.
Boyhood is experienced predominantly from the perspective of Mason Jr. but I found myself observing MJ’s relationship with his mother and how they interacted with each other quite often as the film progressed. Suffice to say, I think that is intentional on the part of Linklater, asking us to consider the effect that we have on others in our lives no just our own impact upon the world at large. But that’s just a theory.