Linklater is maestro when it comes to mastering the concept of a time-based reality. This notion is evident in the films Slacker, the Before series, and Dazed and Confused. Boyhood takes on a different kind of monster when time plays such an important factor. It could be considered his opus of filmmaking.
The title is the film described in seven words. We follow the main character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he experiences the different stages of boyhood. The film becomes a character itself. As Mason peruses through this delicate, yet enticing stage of maturity, the film makes Mason into what he is. Yes, his character’s desires, motives, emotions, and other qualities dictate his actions and decisions, but the film, the stage set before Mason, is the main character in the end.
Now one could analyze every single stage of Mason’s life, and try to form some educated opinion about the film as a whole. If that were the case, then one could argue that Linklater failed to delve deeper into Mason’s relationship with his sister (Lorelei Linklater), who was a much more prominent character in the first half of the film. One could argue about the lack of romantic involvement with Mason’s father (Ethan Hawke) and mother (Patricia Arquette) during the film. If one were to do that, then they’d miss the point of the film entirely.
Yes, Richard Linklater was looking to build a cohesive film that would entertain audiences for a significant amount of time. However, what some only see Ethan’s progression through the stages of boyhood during the film. They forget to analyze every other character’s involvement in their own boyhood. Everyone in the film, male or female, experiences boyhood. Regardless of the situations the characters are placed in, they all experience growth at the mercy of angst, confusion, and every other emotion one could think of. Boyhood is just a term given to one gender. However, every character and person experience their own boyhood whilst interacting with Mason throughout the film.
If anyone did a little bit of research on the film, they would discover that the film took 12 years to film. Linklater and Hawke tackled a short film ever year in that sense. They used the same core actors in Arquette, Hawke, Coltrane, and Linklater throughout its duration. Some think that the film should receive acclaim only due to the fact that it took 12 years to make, and that it didn’t cost hundreds of millions of dollars. That would be unfair to what the film is composed of. You could describe it as a cinematic compilation of home movies of real life.
Boyhood serves the audience well. It’s almost three hour long, but it’s worth it. You’ll begin to compare your own childhood to that of Mason’s, and you’ll grow nostalgic in an instant without missing a beat of the film. This film works well for the those born in the early 90’s, as Linklater’s style always reminds the audience of his films from that independent film movement.
This is a film worth paying for, and you will not be disappointed. It could very well contend for a few Oscars this year, as Before Midnight did this past year. The writing in the film is incredibly organic, and doesn’t take you out of the experience.
Do yourself a favor, and see a good film this weekend. Boyhood is the right choice. You can’t go wrong when Linklater is at the top of his game.
Boyhood opens today in area theaters.
Author: Kyle Harter
Kyle Harter recently relocated to Philadelphia after receiving his BA in Film from the University of Central Florida. Kyle aspires to a career of filmmaking, writing, and adventure. Kyle has a mild obsession with Quentin Tarantino, coffee, and Corgis. He co-authors the film blog, The Main Squeeze.