10 Feb Movie Recommendation: Boyhood
Every once in a while I come across a film that has a huge impact on my life. It just so happens that the film I’m talking about is nominated for six Academy Awards and won three Golden Globes back in January.
Now, normally I tend to shy away from movies of critical acclaim because I just assume I’ll run across them at one point or another. Boyhood was a very different situation. When a movie takes such a long time to film and is considered a cinematic milestone, its hard for word not to spread. I went into the movie not seeing any previews prior to my viewing, and it was the best thing I could have ever done. Never before have I been so enthralled with a film such as this
Directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock), this coming of age drama follows the life of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), his sister (Lorelei Linklater), and estranged parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke). The film looks at Mason Jr’s life as he matures from a child of six to a teenager entering his first year of college. Usually directors will cast various versions of each actor when trying to show the passage of time in a film, but not this one. The reason why this is being considered a cinematic milestone is because the director sporadically filmed scenes with the original cast over the span of 12 years. I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.
So the story takes on a lot of Forrest Gump-esque qualities, because you get to watch the growth of Mason’s family progress through his eyes. Granted, its not like you never get to see his face, but nothing happens unless Mason is there to witness it. He watches as his mother struggles to raise a family, earn a college degree, and stumbles through several toxic marriages with raging alcoholics. He watches as his irresponsible father slowly creeps back into his life, becoming a truly solid role model for him and his sister. And he watches as his tumultuous childhood finally blossoms into a hopeful adolescence.
It’s one of those movies where you get to see how all of the events in a character’s life fall into place to shape their future. Unfortunately, Mason gets a delt a lot of crappy cards throughout his childhood, because his mother is constantly moving him and his sister for work, school, or to escape one of her failed romances. At one point in the movie, you get a sense that things are finally coming together (Around 2004). Mason’s mother is working towards a degree in Houston. She meets a (seemingly) respectable college professor, Bill Wellbrock, who she marries and moves in with. This is the first time in the movie where Mason seems to feel at ease. He has a family, a nice house, and his real father has moved nearby, spending time with him and his sister on the weekends.
Unfortunately, like several other times throughout the film, you get the feeling the life is about to blow up in your face. Bill begins to show signs of heavy alcoholism paralleled by violent behavior. At one point Mason and his stepbrother find their mother face down on the garage floor, sobbing uncontrollably as Bill stands over her. It later becomes obvious that in a drunk rage he slammed her head into the wall. Needless to say in a very emotional scene Mason’s mother sweeps him and his sister away before more damage can be done.
The film goes on much like this for its entirety. Every time you think the story is going to reach a stable plateau, it nosedives back into total chaos. And you follow along as every one of these experiences mold and shape Mason’s character over the span of those twelve years. Its a unique experience to get an extended view of someone’s life behind closed doors.
Now, to the main point. Why did this movie hit me so damn hard? The answer is simple; it felt like I was peering back into my own life. Granted I’ve never been to Texas, but Mason is a character I can relate to. We both grew up around similar times, so I got a great deal of nostalgia from things like watching him pick up his copy of The Half Blood Prince and seeing his Dragon Ball Z comforter in his childhood bedroom. I’ve never been through a messy divorce or moved around a lot, but the movie goes deeper than that. When you get right down to the core, its about the same crap we all go through in our journey from childhood into adulthood. It’s a reminder of all the memories that shape us into our current selves, and its a lesson that great people can come out of some terrible situations.
The music from this movie also plays a big role in what makes it so great. A lot of these songs helped fuel my musical interests throughout my teenage years. The soundtrack features music from bands like Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Wilco, and of course Blink-182. Millenials are going to love hearing some of their favorite songs from when they were kids. I couldn’t help but laugh as Mason’s sister sang Oops!…I Did It Again, in one of his early childhood scenes. And nothing was better than hearing Anthem Part Two blasting through my television.
So if you want to watch a movie that, in my opinion, is going to walk away with best picture, then watch Boyhood. It’s guaranteed to be an emotional ride that will leave you wanting more.