Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethane Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Filmed over 12 years, Boyhood shows the life of Mason (Coltrane) as he moves around with his mother (Arquette) and sister (Linklater). He only has a fleeting relationship with his father (Hawke) and has to endure some tough households as his mother marries men with anger issues. All the while the audience witnesses Mason’s growth as he finds his passion in life, discovers girls, and questions his own place in the world.
Boyhood has the feel of a documentary and even though it has some recognisable actors in Hawke and Arquette I often found myself forgetting that I was watching a work of fiction. This can be seen as a con for some people, as there’s really no narrative or driving plot to speak of. Furthermore a number of the situations can seem clichéd and a little contrived, so the fact that it does resemble real life might turn some people away because, really, we have real life for that, films are meant to escape that.
But I found it absorbing and I’m sure that everyone is going to find at least one situation or feeling to identify with. The only indications of timeframe are through the songs used in the soundtrack, the technology used, and some of the news stories. It just unfolds and spools out, and before you know it the film is over, and this pretty much sums up life really. It has an almost timeless quality to it because this journey is something that’s going to be repeated over and over again.
The performances were strong and seamless, and it’s quite a testament to everyone involved that it fits together so well. Some people do drift in an out of the film but this is to be expected, as that’s what happens in life. I think this film can be held up as a mirror to reflect our life, and perhaps it’s just Linklater’s style but I could have watched this for another three hours. There are moments of tension, joy, and even though we get to see these characters/people evolve there are still some hints that we’re missing out on things, and it’s probably the most realistic piece of fiction ever made. There aren’t any car chases or big explosions, and it doesn’t follow a typical structure of fiction but it does mirror our own lives and not just the most notable moments either, but even in the small and mundane things that just happen.
The running time can seem daunting but it’s definitely worth the time. I enjoyed it tremendously.