Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke in a film by Richard Linklater.
The film tells a story of a young boy dealing with a fractured family and the angst of adolescence over the course of twelve years, from age 6 to age 18.
Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” is sweeping and sporadic, jumping from year to year sometimes in a blur; much like the act of growing up itself. “Boyhood” tells the story of the evolution of Mason, Jr (Ellar Coltrane) over a 12 year period, starting from age 6 and going on until he hits 18. The film was shot over a 12 year period starting in 2002 for a few weeks out of every year.
Mason’s parents are divorced. His mom Olivia (Patricia Arquette), is his and his sister Samantha’s (Lorelei Linklater) primary caretaker. His dad, Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke), visits inconsistently whilst trying to hold on to dreams of being a musician and the cool dad.
We watch Mason move from house to house for various reasons, and over the course of a little under 3 hours you’re watching people, children especially, grow older before your eyes and you start to care about them as your own.
You bring your own childhood experiences to the film and, despite personal differences or experiences, this is a universal story. Without realizing, you find yourself deeply invested in these characters and dreading the possibility of anything bad ever happening to them.
Watching both Mason and his sister Samantha get older before our eyes and battle the trials of adolescence is endearing. They’re angst ridden and obtuse but you understand it and you want the world to give them a moment to breathe. With Mason specifically, you want him to be allowed to fly free like the bird he wants to be, but that’s not the world. You think back to your own adolescence and how oppressive in nature the adults are in your lives; preordaining a path for you, taking out frustrations on you and telling you who to be as a person. This is Linklater’s deal. He’s always telling the story of kids who don’t get the world, who don’t fit in and who just want to find some kind of answer.
Things just happen to these characters and there is no time for pause for reflection, life always goes on. To paraphrase one character near the end, “you don’t really seize the moment, the moment seizes you.”
Boyhood is about the moments that seize you and mold you into who you become. It’s messy, beautiful and chaotic, and in the end I just wanted to relive it one more time, just like childhood.
Boyhood opens today in select theaters.