I loved it. In fact I loved it so much that I went to see it alone, and then took my 16 year old daughter to see it the next day. So, we loved it.
The truth is that I adore Richard Linklater’s films, his portrayal of life, his ability to capture the most seemingly insignificant daily occurrences and give them the reverence they deserve because those are the threads of life that help define who we become. This movie deals with our mortality in such a delicate manner that sneaks up on you towards the end of the film, and suddenly you’re brought to tears. The fact that Linklater filmed this over a span of 12 years was impressive because the tone of the film doesn’t change despite the metamorphosis the actors go through as we watch them age on camera throughout the nearly three hours that you’re watching them.
Let’s go down the main actors in this film that gave heartfelt performances; unfortunately, I cannot go through the entire cast, but every actor in this film was outstanding. Let’s start with Mr. Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight – I love Ethan Hawke; he plays the weekend/summer camp dad with a Peter Pan complex, perfectly — I’m pretty sure his character never contributed a dime to help the kids charming, complex, and driven mother with terrible taste in men, played by Patricia Arquette. At the moment I’m still haunted by Patricia Arquette’s final words on screen as she finally understands she is alone, summarizes her life to her son, and cries in disbelief that “I just thought there would be more” — mothers, prepare to cry at this scene and kids, console your moms if you’re with them. This brings me to the children, which includes Linklater’s daugher, Lorelei (being a Gilmore Girls fan, I was excited), playing the older sister, Samantha, to the protagonist, played by newcomer, Ellar Coltrane. Both Lorelei and Ellar gave such incredible performances that you forget they are acting. Lorelei plays the older sister so well; she is tough like a first child might be that’s had to live a parent’s separation, and has had to internalize the pain. There are moments when terrible things are happening that she just smiles, jokes, or makes an obnoxious remark, but if you’ve seen the interaction between siblings, you realize she’s protecting herself and her younger brother despite taunting him and doing obnoxious older sister kind of things; she is the kid that does not allow herself to be vulnerable, she voices the injustices, and demonstrates an enormous resilience. This brings me to the star of the film, Mason Jr. played by Coltrane: what an incredible performance. Coltrane conveys such a vulnerability, honesty, and an incredible sense of humor. Towards the end of the film, Mason Jr. is engaged in dialogue with a young woman who said that it’s really not about seizing the moment, but rather how the moment seizes you…watching this film was one of those moments. This is a film that speaks to individuals at different stages of life. Boyhood gently awakens the viewer to one’s delicate and often ignored mortality. Boyhood keen’s you into the fact that just because a person gets older, it doesn’t mean they have things figured out. In one scene, Mason Jr. is telling someone how even though his mother has gone through a transformation from a woman without a career or degree to one working at a college with a Master’s, she’s still just as “confused as I am”. Hawke also admits at two points in the the film that time and the walls you hit in life are what eventually tame you, break you and practically force you into submission.
I could go on and on with this film because it is a story that will make you reflect on your life, on the dreams you realized or didn’t, and the significant crossroads life provided you with. A good foreshadowing of how inspirational this film is was it’s opening with Coldplay’s “Yellow” as our beautiful Mason Jr., then at the sweet age of six, is staring into a powder blue sky, his entire life ahead of him, hope intact, and dreams in vivid colors.
Go see this film; see it alone, see it with your kid, just see it.