Sunday, August 17, 2014
Written and directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood is the story of the life of a young boy as he comes of age from the first grade to the twelfth grade. Shot in the span of 12 years, the film is an exploration into the world of childhood and the world of a boy growing up with his mother and older sister as well as endure the sporadic appearances of his father. Starring Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, and Ellar Coltrane. Boyhood is a tremendously transformative and exhilarating film from Richard Linklater.
The life of a child is a unique one where it is the years where children learn about the ways of life as well as the idea that the world isn’t perfect. Especially as it concern their own parents who aren’t perfect as they would struggle in raising their children to do well and prepare them for adulthood. The film is about these situations as it relates to a young boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) who would endure many changes in the entirety of his young life from being a child to becoming an 18-year old aspiring photographer. Especially as he would go through these changes with his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) in the span of twelve years with sporadic appearances by his father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). In the course of the story, Mason and his family would live in various places all over Texas as Olivia struggles to find stability in her life through marriages and other setbacks. Especially as the film’s story revolves around growing pains that Mason and Samantha would go through as well as having to move every few years and the visits from their father.
Richard Linklater’s screenplay doesn’t really play into any kind of traditional structure as it really plays more into Mason’s coming-of-age as a boy who would go through many things in the course of twelve years. Among them would be arriving into different schools, take part in the trends of the time, and all sorts of things that kids and teenagers would go through. Especially as the film’s second half showcases Mason as a teenager where he would face the pressure of fitting in and be part of something as there’s one notable scene where he lies about being with girls and such which is often very common with teenage boys. Yet, Linklater makes sure the story is very simple as it relates to Mason’s own growth as a person where many of his experiences would come into play as a man as well as learning about love and such. Even as he would get some advice from his own father, who does reveal why things with him and Mason’s mother didn’t work out, in the ways of love and all sorts of things.
Linklater’s direction is very evocative in the way that he presents the film where he manages to capture the growth of a child and his family in the span of 12 years without any kind of tricks, visual effects, or something that could’ve been told in a conventional fashion. Instead, Linklater would do something where he would capture a moment in time in these twelve different years to capture not just a sense of evolution in the growth that Mason and Samantha would endure but also in their surroundings in the state of Texas. Shooting on location in various locations of the state including cities like Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and other small towns. The film maybe a Texan film but it has this otherworldly tone where it could’ve been set anywhere in America as it adds to Mason’s experience in his growth as a young man. While many of the compositions such as the close-ups, medium shots, and some unique camera angles are presented in a very simplistic manner, Linklater uses that approach in order to create something that feels real.
That approach to realism helps the film maintain something that feels natural in its development where the characters of Olivia and Mason Sr. don’t use makeup to age themselves but rather show it naturally as does the look of Mason and Samantha. Especially in the latter where Mason and Samantha would endure many different looks in the course of the year in order to showcase the tone of the times or what was trendy in that year. Linklater builds up the evolution of the story in a very slow yet methodical way rather than say it happens in this year or that year. Especially in the final years of Mason’s life as a high school kid as he becomes aware of entering adulthood where there is this mixture of excitement and dread. Overall, Linklater crafts a very mesmerizing yet extraordinary film about a boy’s life coming of age from childhood to adulthood.
Cinematographers Lee Daniel and Shane Kelly do excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it‘s very colorful with its naturalistic approach to lighting in the many locations in Texas along with some of the interior lighting schemes at night including the Harry Potter book party for the sixth book. Editor Sandra Adair does brilliant work with in the editing where it‘s very straightforward with some bits of stylistic flairs along with some offbeat transitions to play into the film‘s unconventional structure. Production designers Rodney Becker and Gay Studebaker, with set decorator Melanie Ferguson, do fantastic work with the set design from the different look of the homes that Mason would live throughout his entire childhood.
Costume designer Kari Perkins does nice work with the costumes to play into the evolution of the clothes that the four principle characters would wear in the course of twelve years. Sound editor Tom Hammond does terrific work with the sound work to play into the way music sounds on some of the locations along with other moments that happen in the key parts of Mason‘s childhood. Music supervisors Meghan Currier and Randall Poster is amazing as it features an array of music that plays into the many years that Mason and Samantha would encounter from Coldplay, the Flaming Lips, Britney Spears, Paul McCartney, Phoenix, and all sorts of musical styles from hip-hop, country, pop, rock, indie, and folk as it is a highlight of the film.
The film’s incredible cast includes notable appearances from Charlie Sexton as Mason Sr.’s musician friend Jimmy, Libby Villari as Olivia’s mother, Jenni Tooley as Mason Sr.’s new wife Annie in the film’s second half with whom he would have a child with, Richard Andrew Jones and Karen Jones as Annie’s parents who would give Mason some gifts for his 15th birthday, Richard Robichaux as Mason’s boss in his teenager years, Barbara Chisholm as a friend of Olivia in Carol, Zoe Graham as Mason’s high school girlfriend Sheena, Brad Hawkins as Olivia’s third war-veteran husband Jim, Marco Peralla as Olivia’s second husband in a college professor Bill, Jamie Howard and Andrew Villarreal as Bill’s children, and Roland Ruiz as a laborer Olivia would meet and give advice to in the film’s second half.
Lorelei Linklater is brilliant as Samantha as Mason’s older sister who would endure not just her own growing pains but also venture into trends and such as she brings a lot of complexity into the role of an older sister. Patricia Arquette is amazing as Mason’s mother Olivia who does her best to raise her children while enduring financial and romantic woes as it’s a very engaging performance to display a mother trying to bring stability to her family. Ethan Hawke is fantastic as Mason’s father who is this exuberant yet cool man-child of sorts who is sort of irresponsible yet manages to become a mature parent who often displays a lot of wisdom for his children in the ways of the world. Finally, there’s Ellar Coltrane in a remarkable performance as Mason who would encounter many changes of his life as a young boy into a young man from all sorts of things that is very common with growing up while gaining an understanding of the ways of the world as it’s a truly astonishing performance for the actor.
Boyhood is an absolutely one-of-a-kind film from Richard Linklater that transcends the idea of what film could be. Armed with a great cast and a premise that is truly powerful, it’s a film that not only captures the experience of childhood into adulthood. It is also a film that allows an audience to possibly reflect about themselves in those years as it is really unlike anything in contemporary American cinema. In the end, Boyhood is a magnificent film from Richard Linklater.
Richard Linklater Films: It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books - Slacker - Dazed & Confused - Before Sunrise - subUrbia - The Newton Boys - Waking Life - Tape - School of Rock - Before Sunset - Bad News Bears (2005 film) - A Scanner Darkly - Fast Food Nation - Me and Orson Welles - Bernie (2011 film) - Before Midnight - Everybody Want Some!! - The Auteurs #57: Richard Linklater Pt. 1 - Pt. 2
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