boyhood_1Year: 2014
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer(s): Richard Linklater
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: R
35mm, Color, 165 mins

Synopsis: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18. (Source)

Nothing catches up to us the way time does. It’s always moving forward despite our attempts to slow it down, and it’s the one thing we can never ever control. Filmed over a period of twelve years, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has somewhat managed to capture time’s elusive nature just briefly, exposing it with beauty, grace and infinite momentum. Featuring the same cast for over a decade, the film focuses on the transition of star Ellar Coltrane from young, inquisitive child to young adult, a feat never caught before on film, and perhaps never to be repeated again. In short, Linklater’s film is a brave, bold experiment in which the greatest special effect is time itself. Molding a story around such a variable would seem like a risky gamble, but the results pay off in full, delivering an honest, sobering dissection of life, love and hope.

Naturally, the narrative of the film doesn’t unfold in a traditionally defined, a-b manner. There is no singular conflict or discernible villain, but instead the average, yet extraordinary trials of every day life. Starting off with six-year old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) lying in a field of grass and staring at the limitless expanse of the open sky, the shot is an indication of the young boy’s boundless options and the many ways our lives could change at any moment. Using a fictional narrative, Linklater weaves a leisurely account of Mason’s childhood, showing him as the one constant while his family shapes and reforms through thick and thin. Through it all, he weathers a few stepfathers, a rambunctious sister and ultimately gains independence through existential discovery and his quest for identity. In essence, the film is wonderful look at the things that make us human, the tiny reasons that make us want to live and the way that we are constantly becoming something better.

The best thing about the film is the way Linklater captures truth through fiction. If art imitates life, then this film shows the art of life and living, in all of its unpredictability. Through it’s deliberate pace, Linklater’s camera is unobtrusive, making us truly feel as if we’re right alongside Mason and his family as they learn and adapt together to the world around them, even as their intertwined lives go in separate places yet never completely separate. Linklater smartly makes each section of Mason’s life transition slowly to the next, not calling attention to jumps in the timeline and organically growing him up with extended chapters which keep our focus on the present. Because of this, the film flawlessly evokes what it feels like to grow up, and in tandem with Mason’s constant transformation, the journey goes by like the blink of an eye. Needless to say, the film’s view of the world is refreshing, channeling star Coltrane’s innocence into a vulnerability we rarely see, perhaps because it’s real and always in flux.

boyhood_2Though the film boasts an incredible cast of players ranging from Linklater stalwart Ethan Hawke and even Patricia Arquette, the real star is undoubtedly Ellar Coltrane, who has effectively immortalized his entire childhood in film form. As Mason, you get nothing but genuine emotion from him. There’s an innocence and vulnerability which capture the inherently inquisitive nature we all have inside us. It never feels like Ellar is actually acting, yet naturally responding to the things around him. It’s this truth that makes the film special alone, even if the film is filled with characters which will at one point or another remind you of someone you know.

In the best way, Boyhood is a testament to life’s mystery and an artsy time capsule overflowing with vitality and excitement. It’s also a tribute to family and the people who keep us going, featuring naturalistic dialogue, scenarios and an organic sense of progression which make us reexamine life through the eyes of an innocence child and his naivety. To push things even further, all of this is set to the universal rhythm of pop music, taking whatever hits were around at the time to submerge us back to the way things have changed in just a short, twelve-year span. While it’s fair to call Boyhood somewhat of a gimmick film, what Linklater has created is as real as it gets, a film that shows that while time and its effects may be inevitable and fixed, the possibilities of who we are and where we’re going are infinite.

Crome Rating: 4/5