- Directed by: Richard Linklater
- With: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
- 165 Minutes
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!
I only heard about Boyhood after its release and first reactions… The amazing comments and reviews added to the also very interesting production facts made it clear to me that Richard Linklater’s newest movie was obligatory. 12 years in the making… I mean, this is one hell of a project and a remarkable achievement in terms of experimental films but long before the movie’s release in Portugal, the amazing first reviews started accumulating and so far, Boyhood managed to become one of the highest rated movies in Rotten Tomatoes and one of the five movies that hold a 100-score in Metacritic and that my friends is a good reason to say wow! For those of you who still don’t know what this movie is about, here’s a small hint… By following young Mason’s life from 5 to 18 years old, Boyhood is Linklater’s way to represent life in the purest, youngest and most honest way possible!
When one hears about Boyhood and its plot, the initial reactions might be a bit mixed… Amazing reviews and commentaries don’t necessarily mean that everyone will enjoy the movie and the whole concept may seem a bit too simple and dull for those who are constantly looking for more “intellectual” movies. Describing a young boy’s life in the world of cinema has always been a pretty difficult job… The immature way of thinking, the way young people see the world and the instability in a young boy’s mind are probably relevant facts that prevent both writers and directors from achieving a perfect coming-of-age story. However, Richard Linklater nailed it and for the first time I witnessed life flashing through my eyes in a movie theater. Boyhood is not perfect but it’s for sure a groundbreaking achievement in film history, especially when it comes to experimental films, and most important is a beautiful representation of life in a truly natural way.
Boyhood follows Mason life in every single aspect, like his divorced parents relationship, the way his sister dealt with all the things happening and how he reacted upon all the changes happening in his life. After becoming a mother too soon, Mason’s mom (Patricia Arquette) deals with economic difficulties and with a father (Ethan Hawke) that is not present in their kids’ lives. Her struggle is compelling and I saw a lot of both my divorced parent’s daily life while they give their best every single day to pay all the expenses all by themselves. After moving to another place, it’s funny to see how the entire family dealt with the situation… From making new friends to resuming the college studies, they all try to adapt to the new reality the best way they can… I found quite interesting Mason’s dad story since he took too long adapting to a life with kids and when he finally managed to understand what were his responsibilities, he tried his best to change his behavior in order to become a better father. I wasn’t personally affected by this situation but the way Mason’s parents deal with the days they spend with their children it’s something quite realistic that happens to almost everyone who has divorced parents. So, yep I literally saw part of my life flashing in front of my eyes and I found this to be amazing in every sense of the word.
Boyhood also follows the romantic life of Mason’s parents after their divorce which challenged my mind a little bit since both Mason and his sister had to pass through a domestic violence issue between their mom and one of her possessive boyfriends. I call this challenging since it’s something capable of changing a young boy’s life forever… Mason witnesses his own mother helpless and weak while her boyfriend attacks her, both physically and mentally, which is a delicate and painful situation that is questioned several times by him in the middle of conversations. But the movie also focuses the attention in the good moments, such as family meetings, dinners and celebrations, which reveals union and strength between everyone. While the years go through, we see Mason discovering curious things and questioning what he doesn’t understand, which is natural for a young boy but that in Boyhood is treated with some special care. From his relationships with his family to the changes on his thoughts, Boyhood is the ultimate film journey through the discovery of us, because one can easily reflect on some of the movie’s subjects such as the way divorce, domestic violence and the lack of a father’s presence influence the life choices of one young boy.
I enjoyed a lot Patricia Arquette’s performance for the way she dealt with the emotions and with the difficult events that were happening. As a divorced mother of two kids, Arquette’s struggle for providing a better and safe home to her kids is a clear representation of the difficulties one goes through after a divorce… Without the help of their father, she decides to move several times to not only protect them but also to fight for a better job and a better life. But what’s really amazing about all this is the way the characters evolve after a specific event and way things change and go from difficult to steady, which captures our own daily life with our good and bad days. Ethan Hawke, the father, also did a quite good performance for the way his character evolved, from not caring about his responsibilities to protecting and loving all of his family. His character is seriously funny and even though I began judging him in the wrong way, in the end he proved that he was a strong man for the way he dealt with all of his responsibilities. But in a movie that focuses its attention into growing up, Mason and his sister are the characters that matter the most with their struggle for understanding this complicated world. Their performances are captivating and again Linklater did a great job representing the quick change of thoughts, behaviors and beliefs one goes through in this early phase.
Besides the good performances, Boyhood also has several interesting cultural references such as some cartoons I watched when I was a kid, the release of Harry Potter’s books and the way young people were addicted to Tamagotchi. So, when one adds a great soundtrack (that also can be seen as a cultural reference because it features singles that were great hits in the years they were released, Boyhood turns into a terrific achievement in film history that demands to be seen by everyone. Movies like this one aren’t released that often and it’s amazing to see this retrospective on how society has changed through the years. Sure you could say to me that this is just a story about a kid who is growing up but for me, it was much more than that… The way Linklater represents the family dynamics is truly natural and thanks to that Boyhood allows its viewers to reflect on their personal lives. It took 12 years to film what one can see in approximately 3 hours but from the beginning to the end, one can see the heart and soul Linklater has given to his project. In the end, Boyhood is one of those special movies that I will surely remember for the rest of my life.
See it in:
IMAX | Dolby ATMOS | 3D Theaters | 2D Theaters | Rental