Boyhood is an incredible achievement in cinema. It’s about the life of a young boy, from early childhood, to his arrival in college. The amazing thing is that the director, Richard Linklater, uses the same exact cast throughout the entire movie. The film took 12 years to make, and the actor who portrays the boy, Ellar Coltrane, was 7 years old when he started, and 19 years old when they finished the project. There are so many things that could have gone wrong with this. Someone could have died, or went to jail, or maybe just decided they didn’t want to do it anymore. Not only is it incredible that they were able to create this film, but it is also just really well made. The directing is top-notch, all the performances are fantastic, and the writing is incredible. It feels more like a documentary than an actual film. Boyhood has become one of my all time favorite films. I’m gonna dive into why that is so, and why it should be considered one of the best films of our generation.
I love the first shot of this film (which I used as my feature image for this post). It shows Mason laying on the grass just looking up at the sky. This is a perfect way to start the film. This, all in one photo, shows wonder, awe, curiosity, and astonishment. Who am I? What does my future hold? Why do we exist as a society? These are all questions that may confuse a young boy, but Boyhood does a really good job of exploring. On paper, this may just seem like a cool experiment, using the same boy in the course of 12 years. However, this film is so much more than that. It is about life, and how specific moments can define who you are. These may be moments that you don’t really think about, or don’t want to think about, but they are crucial to becoming who you are as a person. I don’t think I have ever seen a film that does a better job of explaining that than Boyhood. It is hard to pinpoint exactly those moments in your life, but I think that is what Richard Linklater was trying to do with this film. Every scene in this film, is very important, and necessary to Mason and him becoming the person he is at the end of this movie. This movie might have a very long run-time, but it has a nice pace to it and never drags. This is because as a viewer, you are invested in these characters, and you want to see where destiny takes them. It is an incredible journey to behold, and one that is intriguing and emotionally stimulating.
This is easily one of the best screenplays I have ever experienced from a film. I talked about this in my Why I Love: Pulp Fiction segment, but the dialogue is very natural, but never boring. This is a hard thing to pull off. Normally with screenwriting, you can create dialogue that normal people would say, but it is usually very tedious. Also, you could create dialogue that is very intriguing, but it probably wouldn’t be said by a person in real life. With Boyhood, Linklater manages to create dialogue that feels real, but also interests the viewer. If you have seen any of the Before films, than you know exactly what I am talking about. In this screenplay, you hear about all the important topics that need to be discussed in our society. We hear conversations about pop culture, politics, religion, technology, education, and most importantly philosophy. Linklater does a great job of not only focusing on adolescence with this film, but also where we are in society. In 30 years, if someone wants to know how our culture was in the early 2000s, than they should definitely check out this film. Boyhood is a perfect representation of where we stand today, and how the past decade or so has shaped us. This film is loaded with amazing quotes, that as a viewer, really requires you to think, and maybe second guess how you view our society, and who you are as a person.
This film is extremely original. Obviously, there has never been anything even remotely similar to this. That is another reason why I love it so much, and why it stands out from a lot of other coming-of-age movies I have seen. As an audience, we are following the same characters, and we begin to get sucked into their lives. It is almost like we know them. We can tell when in the movie, Mason’s voice gets deeper, when he starts to get acne, and when he has his first kiss. We experience the highs and the lows of his life. When he graduates high school at the end of this film, we feel proud, because we were there in the very beginning. We know all the things he had to go through to get to where he was. This film can be very happy at times, but also very sad. All the characters in this film seem so real. The chemistry with the actors are phenomenal, and why wouldn’t it be? They have spent 12 years together making this film, so obviously they have grown to respect one another, just like a real family would. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play Mason’s divorced parents, and they are both astonishing performances. Neither one of them are perfect, but they are extremely likable. Never at once does it seem like they are acting. They were both nominated for Academy Awards, with Arquette winning Best Supporting Actress. My favorite performance is Ethan Hawke’s though. His character arch throughout the entire film is fascinating. At the beginning of the film, he is very immature and childish at times. However, by the end of the film, he has changed so much. He has been remarried, has a new child, and has become a more stable adult. He is very wise and sophisticated. Change is a key theme in this film, and Linklater does a great job showing that through all his characters.
Lastly, I want to point out how personal this film is for me. This film takes place around the same time that I grew up. In a way, this film is a documentary of my life. I can relate to a lot of the things that Mason went through. Watching this film, it takes me back to when I was a kid growing up. Although, I think a lot of people who didn’t grow up around that time can still relate to it in some way or another. I just wanted to point out that, and why this film means so much to me. I love the music in this film! Pretty much every song that is played was something I listened to growing up. It’s a great documentation of the type of music I listened to. There is so much more I could say about this film, but I just wanted to point out the highlights and key reasons why I love this film, and why it is one of the greatest films of our time.
Favorite Scene: My favorite scene in the entire film is Mason’s high school graduation party toward the end of the film. This is pretty much a celebration and reflection of the entire film. All the important people in Mason’s life are all together interacting with each other. Some we haven’t seen since Mason was younger. My favorite part is when Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke’s characters interact. They are perfect in this scene. We haven’t really seen them talk since the beginning of the movie, when they were much different and pretty much hated each other. However, this is pretty much 12 years later, and we can tell that they have begun to really respect one another. When Ethan Hawke says “You did a great job with them by the way” and thanks her, it is a perfect showcase with who his character has become. He is acknowledging everything Arquette’s character went through and had to do for her children.