Shot over a 12 year period, from 2002 till 2014, Boyhood is Richard Linklater’s latest attempt on changing the landscape of cinematic experience. Previously known for his magnum opus Before trilogies, the best three movies I have ever seen, Linklater excels once again in combining realism and movie making. The idea of Boyhood is exceptionally simple – Linklater stated that he always wanted to make a movie about a boy’s journey from the young age to moments before college and that’s exactly what he did.
Remaining true to his indie roots, Linklater only received $200.000 per year for the film’s budget, and with no complete scripts in hand the cast have to improvise with only basic characters’ idea and resumed playing them again next year with a set of new scripts Linklater wrote after viewing the earlier footage. Playing the central figure is actor Ellar Coltrane who we see first at the age of seven as Mason Evans Jr. He is hired because young Coltrane wants to become an actor and Linklater thought he is the perfect fit since he will be doing the thing he liked. Linklater’s own daughter, Loreai Linklater, played Mason’s sister Samantha and accompanying the two are Patricia Arquette as Mason’s mother Olivia and Ethan Hawke (Linklater’s close friend and frequent collaborator) as the father, Mason Evans Sr.
Boyhood started out with Mason, Samantha and Olivia in Texas before they migrated to Houston to accommodate Olivia’s future study. Next we see Mason’s single father drops by to visit his children. The movie then slowly, yet effortlessly (thanks to Sandra Adair’s editing), transformed into this style of long memoir of twelve years which allow us to peek into Mason’s life. The transition from one year to the other is perfect and quite abrupt; giving the audience a sense of dread and curiousity to see what happens next. The twelve years encompass Mason’s encounter with DuBois, alcohol, his interest in photography, his camping moment with his father, his time living with an abusive step dad, his friends, his high school girlfriend Sheena and his last days before college.
As well as being an independent film, Boyhood is also an indie American movie, which means it includes the country’s pastime, such as watching baseball game, eating hotdogs, Obama’s Presidential Election, high school parties and many others. I am not American and yet I have no hard time relating to Boyhood. I can relate to Mason’s struggle with growing up, his trouble to understand his parents divorce, his introvert nature, his artistic curiousity, his fascination with sex, his fear of the future, his drinking days and his weird outlook in life. Mason’s character is not a make-believe, party-obsessed American teenager… No, he is real and you will find him in every country.
The film wrapped up with Linklater’s usual Carpe Diem signature, however, for me watching Boyhood paint a clear picture that no one, not even the parents, actually have the slightest idea on “how to grow up”. My favourite scene is the interaction between Mason and his mother before he leaves to college. Patricia Arquette’s sublime acting as Olivia (matched with Linklater’s masterpiece dialogue) perfectly captures the chaotic confusion of life and why Boyhood is easily 2014’s best film:
“This is the worst day of my life” … “What are you talking about?” …. “You know what I’m realising? My life is just going to go. Like that. This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. Getting divorced… again. Getting my masters degree. Finally getting the job I wanted. Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what’s next? Huh? It’s my fucking funeral!” …. “Aren’t you jumping ahead by, like, 40 years or something?” … “I just thought there would be more.”
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