“Boyhood” follows Mason as a boy through 12 years of his life up to high school graduation, through the ups and downs of poor father figures, peer pressure, teen angst, and navigating his way through life.
5. Director Richard Linklater shot footage each passing year over 12 years, literally allowing Mason (Ellar Coltrane) to grow up before the camera’s eye. If that isn’t an ideal way to allow character development, what is?
4. The cast is fantastic. They blend well together for the portrait of a perfectly dysfunction family, but not so much so that the majority of the audience can’t relate during at least one of the scenes.
Mason’s mom, an intelligent, warm, strong woman (Patricia Arquette) is struggling to provide a living for her two young children while dad (Ethan Hawke) drifts in and out of their lives in a way of someone who has yet to grow up himself. He's a weekend dad teaching them about The Beatles and baseball, but not about showing up in any consistent kind of way. Arquette speaks for single mothers everywhere when she shouts out of the vehicle at her annoyed daughter, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), “I’m doing the best I can!” One of the best moments of the movie, though, involves Arquette's brief reunion with someone she encouraged along the way while she was struggling herself.
Linklater as Samantha (also, the director’s daughter) turns on the charm immediately as pre-teen Samantha singing “Oops, I Did It Again” to her young brother, Mason, played by an incredibly talented Ellar Coltrane. He was magnetic from the start.
3. Dotted throughout the movie are hairstyle and soundtrack changes signaling the lapse of time. From Coldplay to Britney Spears to Soulja Boy, there is no doubt that both hair and music, good or bad, marks a time in life that can pinpoint a specific memory.
2. It’s a movie that almost anyone can relate to in some way. Life is not perfect, but it’s not all awful either. There are moments that happen that suck but there are also some beautiful moments, too. It was a well thought out move to address strong, difficult situations without taking it to another violent, abusive or painstaking level. Doing so would have taken the focus away from Mason and create a different movie entirely. Life is dramatic enough on its own.
1. It’s the story of life. Growing up and all the angst and confusion that comes with it. The teenage years are difficult and telling of what a person is going to be when they grow up. Different events send people down different parts and to see what changes (and what doesn’t) to Mason over 12 years is fascinating.
IFC/Sundance Selects will be opening BOYHOOD at Landmark Hillcrest on July 18.