My Thoughts On… Boyhood

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free.

The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18. (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Boyhood is famously a film that was filmed over the course of twelve years, allowing the actors to age naturally, rather than using different actors for different stages in the childrens’ lives. It’s a fascinating concept, and while it’s not actually new, I’ve never watched a film like it, and I just loved it. I loved watching Mason and Samantha grow up, from young children to young adults. And of course, it’s not just the children who grow. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, as the parents, also grow, and while the change is not so drastic as it is in the children, adults change a lot in twelve years too.
  • Having said how fascinating I found this concept, it wasn’t something that I constantly thought about throughout the film. The changes were signposted; while it was obvious that time had moved on, it didn’t intrude on the story, and constantly take you out of the narrative. The characters’ hair changed, and different music alluded to a new year, but it wasn’t clumsy in any way. It was interesting to watch the subtle changes in technology, fashion and culture, and to see things like the launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. All these things came together to ensure that we knew that time was moving on, but it was done so well.
  • In filming the movie over the twelve years, Boyhood simply relies on life to provide a story. There are no huge developments, as such, it’s just time passing by and the natural rhythms of life that make the film what it is. While it’s called Boyhood, it’s a story about the whole family. Olivia, played by Patricia Arquette, spends the entirety of the film looking for love, and coming up against the same problem again and again. Her husband, played by Ethan Hawke, finds himself on an opposite trajectory, starting the film as a downbeat dad, but finding his feet and finding a way to have a relationship with his children.
  • I fell in love with Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr. As a little boy, he reminded me a lot of my nephew Robbie, and that just endeared me to him even more. It must have been a huge leap of faith for Richard Linklater to take a chance on a child who had never acted before, without knowing what sort of person he would turn into. It’s clear that he made a perfect choice, because Coltrane is a joy to watch from start to finish.
  • I really liked the dialogue of the film. I don’t think it was improvised, but the speech patterns felt really natural, particularly in the children, and it really appealed to me.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I loved Boyhood. I can’t think of one thing that I didn’t like about it!

Why Should I See This Film?

I can’t recommend Boyhood highly enough. It’s a joy to watch the children grow up on screen, and to watch twelve years go by in a 164 minute film without ever feeling it is too long is a trick that most directors wouldn’t be able to master. The four central performances are just fantastic, especially that of Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason Jr. He’s so likable throughout the whole film, and totally lovable as a small child. There are some funny moments and some poignant moments, and it all comes together to make one of my favourite films of recent years. I can’t wait for the DVD.

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