Boyhood is something unique. A film that takes the everyday experiences of growing up and tracks one young man over 12 years, shooting scenes from each of his years from age six to 18.
It’s an incredible feat of cinematography that will resonate with every parent on the planet and invoke memories of their childhood for every male.
Director Richard Linklater uses four core actors led by the titular ‘boy’ Mason (Ellar Coltrane), Mason’s Mom (Patricia Arquette), Mason’s estranged Dad (Ethan Hawke) and Mason’s sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter).
It’s a long film at almost three hours, but instead of dulling your senses like the overblown Transformers: Age of Extinction, Boyhood feels like an inside peek into a life worth investing some time in to see how it turns out.
Covering some harsh realities of life for many – including an abusive stepdad, a father who simply isn’t able to commit to his family, another stepdad that never quite bonds with Mason – be prepared for a heart-rending experience.
The way each of the father figures in Mason’s young life lets him down in one way or another is painful to watch – and leaves you intensely rooting for the young man.
Mason’s school life is caught in condensed snapshots – dealing with the widely experienced clichés of homework, crushes on female classmates, run-ins with bullies etc – but somehow they don’t feel overly contrived.
As the teenage years kick in we get ringside seats as Mason experiments with drugs, struggles with peer pressure and dabbles in first love as well as finding a passion for photography. There are often hints of danger and threat as Mason’s young naivety makes parents watching cringe, but the plot never gets too dark to bear.
There are some interesting interactions with religious step-grandparents (who buy Mason a shotgun and a bible for his 15th birthday) although this feels a bit tacked on.
Arquette and Hawke are consistently excellent and Coltrane gives a memorable lead performance. There is just so much to Boyhood – laughs, pain, romance and grief which you’ll get to empathise with and probably leave reminiscing over.