Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Cinematography: Lee Daniel and Shane F. Kelly
by Jon Cvack
There are many movies that use iconic songs that elicit a heavy dose of nostalgia - Stand by Me, Now and Then, Dirty Dancing, My Girl. Essentially any coming of age story having taken place in the 1950s has that one track. Yet while most of those films I watched as a child, Boyhood was my first encounter with a coming of age story as an adult (again, the 90s produced some of the greatest of the genre, and there haven't been many good ones since). It was a strange moment realizing that for how fresh the film's opening song of Coldplay's “Yellow” feels in my memory, the song was released close to sixteen years ago, immediately demonstrating how fast time has moved, where the period seems both close, and upon reflection for all things that’ve transpired, equally distant.
For a three hour film, I was absolutely blown away by how quickly it all plays out. I suppose it’s because the story’s really comprised of ten different individual segments, creating an anticipation for what Mason Evans (Ellar Coltrane) will experience next. There would be best friends who come and go and fights with parents and first loves and subsequent heartbreaks and those first drinks and experiments with drugs. We watch as Mason encounters each problem, often assessing it all wrong and taking away the wrong lesson, all while his parents are doing the same. It’s a movie that allowed me to go back and re-experience all of my own ups and downs while growing up, with an amazing cast that brings such profound flavor to moments that seemed so banal or fleeting when first remembered. It allowed me to reconsider how certain events have affected latter ones, and that the small moments that seemed so large then and I laugh about now actually were strong and powerful and in no way insignificant, allowing me to no longer cringe at their memory, but instead embrace them as real and universal.
In the end, during one of the most powerful scenes between Mason and his mom Olivia (Patricia Arquette) we discover her adult view of life. Nothing goes as expected and the frustration is neverending. Just when things seem to calm a new event occurs. As Linklater explores, the challenges we all face in adulthood become increasingly more serious and consequential, but it’s only by pushing through the pains of adolescence that we could ever possibly be prepared for those later in life.
Boyhood celebrates where one is at, no matter the age. The mom can’t find the right husband, or she’s a moment too late. The dad gives up on his dreams while his friend continues and reaches some success. Boyhood takes a look at those small moments that assemble and evolve us into becoming what we are. We cannot escape our choices or the way we respond to certain situations anymore than we control the actions of others and how we're impacted by them. I look at all the chapters in my life, the past five years, the past year, and I consider how they’ve all impacted me, realizing that aside from the spectrum of events - from heartbreaks to deaths to professional frustration - that the only consistent piece of it all is the feeling they’ve all provided. Whether something goes well or terrible, the response is the same, except with a little more knowledge that time will heal, or that the sheer ecstasy of good news or a good day cannot last forever. Everything passes and all we’re left with are the memories of those moments, which Linklater has shown to be some of the most precious of human experience.
BELOW: One of the film's best scenes
© Jonathan Cvack and Yellow Barrel, 2015 - 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jon Cvack and Yellow Barrel with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.