Boy oh boy. What an experience Boyhood was. I admit I am a little late in watching this movie but am I glad I did or what.
Boyhood is a coming of age movie, but it’s very atypical of the usual movies in such genre. Two of my all time favorites coming of age movies are Stand By Me and Wajdja. Now Boyhood is part of that list.
We follow the life of a precocious young boy Mason Jr. He is often teased by his elder sister Samantha. They live with their single mother Olivia in Texas. The movie is spread over 12 years of Mason’s life as he grows up and learns life lessons along the way.
I’ve given a breakdown of each year of his life and the important milestone. Feel free to skip this if you plan on watching the movie.
2002: Mason (Ellar Coltrane) overhears his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette)fighting with her boyfriend, and so the mother decides to move to Houston with the kids.
2004: Mason’s father, Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke), takes Mason Jr and Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) out to bowling, where they have a father-children bonding. Olivia introduces her son to Bill, who Olivia starts to fall in love with.
2005: Olivia and Bill marry, joining their two families. The children share typical experiences like playing video games and attending Harry Potter book release.
2006: Mason Jr and Samantha bond some more with their father over baseball game and a day out in the park. Bill starts to become aggressive with the children in the house assigning them chores, culminating a forced haircut for Mason Jr.
2007: Bill becomes abusive as an alcoholic and in one of the most tense scene, breaks cutlery at the dining table scaring the kids. Olivia moves out with her kids to her friends place. The kids complain about moving yet again.
2008: Mason Sr learns that his daughter has a boyfriend and attempts to talk to her about sex and contraception. Mason Sr takes his son out to camping where they bond over music and Star Wars
2009: Mason Jr and Samantha move to a small town near Austin where they go to a new school. Mason Jr is bullied at school but also draws attention of a girl. Olivia meets a new boyfriend at school.
2010: Mason Jr’s 15th birthday. By this time he’s experimented with alcohol and drugs. Mason Sr takes the kids to his new wife’s parent’s place where he gets an assortment of gift, including a Bible. Mason Jr starts to develop an interest in photography.
2011: Mason is given a hard lecture by his teacher in school about the importance of finishing education before pursuing a career in arts and photography. Mason meets his new girlfriend Sheena. Coming home late, Olivia’s new boyfriend confronts Mason Jr and so Olivia leaves her boyfriend.
2012: Mason Jr and Sheena visit UT Austin where they share their hopes and dreams and see the sunrise together. They are eventually caught together sleeping in Samantha’s dorm room.
2013: Mason Jr has a break up with his girlfriend, and moves away to college where he meets his new roommate. Mason’s family throws him a graduation party where they wish him well as he embarks on a new path. Olivia breaks down and tells Mason that her entire life has flown by and that there are no milestones left except for her funeral. Mason goes on a hiking trip with his new roommate along with two girls. There he talks to Nicole and they talk about how we usually say that we should seize the moment, but rather we should let the moment seize us.
One of the best things about Boyhood is its simplicity. The narrative is very straightforward and realistic, yet profoundly deep and meaningful. Mason goes through several milestones in his life that we all can relate to as a child. Moving homes, new school, playing video games, sibling rivalry, and arguments with mom and so on.
The sheer genius of Boyhood is that Richard Linklater (one of my favorite director; Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before MIdnight) has shot this movie over 12 years using the same actors. So we see the actors grow right before our eyes, which is a cinematic delight. No prosthetics no make up—these people are growing up in front of us. We can mark out the year through the music or their discussions. I’ve never seen anything like this movie before and it was a delight and pure joy to see this movie.
Two scenes that stuck in my head are:
- Mason and Sheena are discussing the pros and cons of technology and applications like Facebook. Mason argues that everyone living on Facebook is devoid of actual human interaction and we don’t really need to know what people are doing on a Saturday afternoon when we are out with our friends. Sheena argues that Facebook can also be helpful as she gets information from it.
- Olivia breaks down at the end of the film in front of her son claiming that she’s disillusioned with her life. Now that her children are in college, she has nothing to look forward to her except her death. This scene was a stark reminder that our lives are indeed flying past us and the days are getting shorter and shorter. It was a very poignant moment.
I also loved the ending. Linklater does some of the best ending in movies (check out the ending of Before Sunset) and he leaves us with a very deep and impactful message: in life, don’t go around seizing the moment, but allow the moments to seize us. With that my friends, we have one of the best movies of all times.
100 out of 5.