This is Boyhood. This is right now. This is no ancient Greek tragedy; there is no intricate or precise or necessarily coherent plot structure. What this film is all about is in the title: Boyhood is the narrative of a young man growing up in a difficult and harsh world. This film will make you laugh hysterically, and it will make you cry. Watch this film alone for the first time. That way, you can let yourself truly feel it. That’s important, because this is more than a movie. This is a therapeutic exercise.
It is possible that I am partial to Richard Linklater’s film because: one, I am a boy; two, I share some of the same experiences that Mason (Ellar Coltrane) has had. I know what it is like to have divorced parents, and I know what it is like to see my mom cry. I know what it is like to be bullied and I, too, have often wondered why the world has to suck so much. Many of us have. Many more will. That is why this film is so truthfully beautiful. It captures such incredible, emotional aspects of human life and brings you back in time to the moments in your own life that are relatable to what is going on in the film. I cannot even begin to think of another film that has brought me so close to tears so many times. Boyhood is able to give its audience that inexplicable Dead Poets Society vibe. Just that feeling that makes the film relevant to life in such an actual and immediate way. This is the type of film that leaves you unsure what there is to do next. When you decide to sit down and watch this film, you effectively decide to spend the next three hours completely and totally immersed in and consumed by the universe of Boyhood.
Taking twelve years to film, Boyhood is a piece of cinematic history. In the most involved, mature, and probably meaningful performance of his sterling career, Ethan Hawke brings his absolute A-game to this project. His depiction of a confused young man with two children by a divorced wife is entirely convincing, as well as immensely entertaining. Hawke manages to beautifully resolve his character’s internal struggle by creating a new character in the more well mannered and thoughtful Dad. Despite Hawke’s exceptional work, Ellar Coltrane steals the show in this film. A remarkably untrained thespian, especially at the beginning of filming when he was just seven years old, Coltrane packs the emotional power of a true veteran. I do not wish to speak for you, my gracious readers, but I fully believe that Coltrane’s performance is ultimately what makes this film one of the best in history. Coltrane reels you in. He makes you see all that is happening from his perspective and makes you feel like its happening to you. I felt as though I was essentially reliving my life in a matter of hours while I watched this film on my laptop at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday night.
And not for nothing: this film’s soundtrack was to die for. It included some of my favorite all-time tunes, as well as incorporating super modern music and live jams played and sung by Hawke and others. Not typically a Coldplay fan, myself, I will say that the use of “Yellow” at the opening of the film was brilliant. It set the scene; it is a “boyish” song. Basically, I just loved the fact that music played such a large part in the movie. As a massive rock geek, I found the great sum of music in the film to supplement my personal connection to it.
Boyhood captures so much truth. The moments are real and constant; as Mason says, “It’s always right now.” The first act of this film brought me way back to my early childhood, playing in the backyard and riding my bike. As Mason grew throughout the film, I remembered all the struggles that I have had on my own journey through boyhood. At the risk of sounding redundant, I will say that is the true beauty of this film. This film makes me long for past times, it makes me feel something so strong, so painful yet joyous simultaneously. All I can say is that I have been inspired by and have fallen in love with this film, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.