Film, In Review: Boyhood

Childhood: the burning curiosity with which we discover what else lies beyond the veils of our imagination.

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Ellar Coltrane (Mason, age 6) in “Boyhood”

He lies wide eyed on the grass staring up at the pale blue sky, wanting something more out of life, even if he doesn’t know what it is just quite yet.One half of the troublesome twosome, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is learning about adulthood and the tribulations that envelop the people he cares for most.

Lorelei Linklater (Sam), Patricia Arquette (Mom), and Ellar Coltrane (Mason, age 7) in "Boyhood"

Lorelei Linklater (Sam), Patricia Arquette (Mom), and Ellar Coltrane (Mason, age 7) in “Boyhood”

Along with his sister Sam (Lorelei Linklater), Mason is forced to travel to Texas where his mother (Patricia Arquette) attempts to establish a career as a Psychology Professor whilst singlehandedly raising her two children. Days before their move however, their wanderlust father (Ethan Hawke), appears from his questionable excavations hoping to make amends with his children, and his ex-wife, for his desertion. A string of bi weekly visits and awkward outings lead to a molding of unquestionable growth between husband and wife, brother and sister, parents and their effervescent children. Like narrow pathways, we watch as Mason navigates his way through the bashful qualms of childhood without regard for the implications he makes upon the people around him.

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Ethan Hawke (Dad), Ellar Coltrane (Mason, age 17), Patricia Arquette (Mom), and Lorelei Linklater (Sam) in “Boyhood”

Twelve years in the making, “Boyhood”, a gem among its contemporaries. Writer and director Richard Linklater assembles a piece of reality recognizably pertinent to ideals immersed within our childhoods, inevitably reflected later in our adulthoods. As a result, Linklater’s script is polished with simplicity. In essence, we understand Mason’s motivations and sympathize with his naïve reasoning until self – destruction becomes imminent. Simultaneously, we watch as Ellar Coltrane maneuvers gracefully through the film as the confounded Mason Junior. Actors Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater wonderfully unravel the seams in this tightly knit coming of age tapestry. Apart from its marvelling realism, “Boyhood” is able to distill the insignificant and breathe life into the nuances we might otherwise ignore. In more than one instance, shedding light on the blinds of domestic horror in which dialogue, things left unsaid or the choices made by each character become tangible. In that way, the film becomes duplicitous, concurrently showing us one thing yet telling us another.

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Ellar Coltrane (Mason, age 18) and Ethan Hawke (Dad) in “Boyhood”

“Linklater presents his set pieces: the predicament, the options, and the outcomes, without filling in all the blanks, allowing audiences to relish in the film’s minute disparities.”

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Jessi Mechler (Nicole) and Ellar Coltrane (Mason, age 19) in “Boyhood”

Consequently, Mason’s mother never seems to fully conquer the challenges that riddle her mountainous life. Unlike Mason, she remains at base, revisiting the same mistakes, the same men, ignoring the abuse, both verbal and physical, over and over again. Granted, she does accost her plateaued circumstances in Act IV, nonetheless her reasoning appears facetious because as a student of Psychology, self – reflection seems essential. Her projection then becomes flawed, complex even, a tragedy in the world of domestic horror. Nevertheless, landscape, within “Boyhood”, becomes an integral and vital character in the film. A breathtaking visual of the outback accompanies each new journey for Mason; a transition between one chapters of his life to the next. The cinematography stunningly evident as Mason trots through an enormous canyon illuminating its curvaceous sediments as he nears its luminous end or driving along a road that stretches far beyond the city’s edge.

“Boyhood”, is as a story for anyone about everyone. Different strands come together to create a masterpiece of interwoven tales that “Boyhood” will become an enigmatic film for the ages. Linklater gives us realism that isn’t coated in anything but burdening honesty.


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