Boyhood, the 2014 independent coming-of-age drama written and directed by Richard Linklater, premiered at Sundance and was released that summer. For a film running 165 minutes, Linklater shot only 39 days, creating 143 scenes.
Linklater is said to have begun without a written script. His premise was to incorporate the real changes in the characters. His idea is seen by the industry as a seminal one . For cinephiles, note that the film is shot in 35mm for its known stability. The film’s awards include a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Patricia Arquette, along with a Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Film. You need to see this film for yourself if you haven’t.
The characters are Mason (age 7), his older sister Samantha , who live with their single mother Olivia in Texas – Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater (age 8 and Linklater’s real life daughter), and Patricia Arquette, respectively. Mom Olivia has a penchant for picking the wrong men. Mason overhears his Mom arguing with the current boyfriend, and soon Olivia moves to Houston to finish her degree (2002-2003).
Absent father and musician Mason Sr. visits then, promising to see more of the children. He takes them bowling (great scene when little Mason asked about bumpers to help keep his ball in the lane. No bumpers in life, his father tells him.) Ethan Hawke as Mason Sr. steals the film with his growth from “teenage” man to a mature father. (A second viewing of the film really shows his acting chops!)
Back to the story: Mom Olivia soon marries her professor Bill and their two families are blended. The kids get along surprisingly well – bonding over video games and school. Olivia soon finds that Bill (Marco Perella) is a controlling alcoholic. When Bill assaults Olivia, it’s the end of husband #2 (2006).
Mason Sr. seems to be around more. There’s a camping trip and a neighborhood political door-to-door putting up Obama/Biden signs. In the meantime, Olivia hooks up with one of her students, Jim, an Iraq War veteran – he moves in (2008). Jim pays some attention to the children and gives Mason a camera.
In the 2009 -11 period, Mason seems a “normal” teen: bullying, smoking, drinking, sex talk, and a girlfriend. When he arrives home one evening, Mom Olivia is hosting a party and says to Mason only Happy Birthday, not noticing the details of her son’s life.
Mason Sr. arrives to take the children, along with his new wife Annie and new baby Cooper, to Annie’s conservative parents’ home. Young Mason was hoping for his father’s old car for his 16th birthday. Instead, he gets a mixed tape of the Beatles. Annie’s conservative parents give Mason both a Bible and a gun! (Draw your own conclusions!)
In 2013, Mason Jr. is 18. Mason and his girlfriend take a road trip to visit Samantha at college. Mason has sex – interrupted by the return of Samantha’s roommate. This is year 12 of the film.
Mom is moving again. Vet Jim is gone. She instructs Mason and Samantha to pack up any possessions they want. Mason, with his camera, drives off to college. He meets his roommate, his roommate’s girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s roommate, Nicole. After a hike and some pot-laden brownies, Nicole asks Mason what he thinks people mean when they say “seize the moment.” She posits that it might be the opposite and that “moments seize us.” This, I believe, is the crux of the movie.
This is a bit long. So are many years in life. As a blogger, I attempt to entertain with what my mother always called my “sledge hammer” diplomacy and in significantly fewer words. Sometimes I rant; sometimes I am ironically funny. A new blog is posted each Sunday night. So pleased to have been asked to write occasionally for Film Club 3.0. Hope you’ll follow all of us.