Boyhood is the coming of age drama that follows the life of Mason Evans Jr (Ellar Coltrane) over a period of twelve years from ages six to eighteen.
With filming commencing in May 2002 and completing in October 2013 writer and Director Richard Linklater filmed for a few weeks each year in order to best capture the physical, emotional and psychological changes of the actors especially the younger cast. Both Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater, who stars as Mason’s older sister Samantha, were eight years old when filming began. Watching their transformation was one of the film’s highlights.
What Linklater successfully manages to accomplish in Boyhood is to downplay the time jumps by not stating what year it is in any scene thus allowing them to seemingly blend in with the storyline. Initially this is a touch confusing because it requires a moment or two to establish what has happened and what is going on in the story, but once the pattern has been ascertained it becomes a joy to watch.
The storyline itself is unremarkable. That is not to say that it is not well written and absorbing because it certainly is both, but Boyhood is effectively a story about nothing other than a boy growing up. Mason is a child who had a relatively normal upbringing with his sister and single mother (Patricia Arquette). Other than being a part of a couple of dysfunctional step families nothing out of the ordinary occurs yet Linklater and the cast are able to portray this in a captivating manner. Boyhood is literally a film that you cannot turn away from. Despite it being two hours and forty-five minutes long every scene draws you in to such a degree that time seems irrelevant. Knowing its premise results in an ongoing anticipation to see what will happen next and in what year.
The characters are normal, everyday people living their lives as best as they can and they are portrayed with rawness and sincerity. Coltrane is simply wonderful as Mason. Watching him literally grow up before your eyes in under three hours is endearing and you truly believe it is he you are watching and not Mason, a fictional character. Lorelei Linklater is equally as captivating as Samantha whose journey is also witnessed albeit with lesser screen time. Veterans Arquette and Ethan Hawke (Mason Evans Sr) shine in their roles as the children’s parents who are each trying to live their lives as single parents. The characters are believable, relatable and watchable.
Everything about this film works. The direction, the script, the cast, the soundtrack and the production unify to create a superb final product, one of the best of 2014.
5 / 5