Alternatives is the tagline feature for other forms of entertainment outside of discussing literature. These posts may encompass television, movies, games, and music with a randomized flavour of the moment approach to each post.
Movies – Boyhood
Genre: Coming of age, Drama, Family
Duration: 165 Minutes
Directed & Written By: Richard Linklater
Boyhood is unlike any film I’ve ever come across, and perhaps the credit goes to the project being meticulously crafted over 12 years with the same cast in Ellar Coltrane, Lorelai Linklater, Patricia Arquette, and Ethan Hawke. It was an undertaking that saw the growth of the entire ensemble, not just of Mason (played by Coltrane) or his older sister Samantha (played by Linklater’s daughter). If you asked me before I watched this if this could win the highest of accolades, I’d be skeptical but not doubtful. So how do I feel after experiencing the nostalgia that in many ways is a film about my (or your) life? The hype doesn’t lie—it deserves the acclaim it has received.
With coming-of-age films, there’s a sense of self-discovery and experiencing the firsts that comes naturally with growing up that isn’t dissected to be more than what it simply is. The pressures of rebellion, the sibling dissonance, the unfiltered parent and the crumbling fairytale home, the categorical social identity, the enduring reality of work ethic, the rationalized stereotype, the cultivation of interests—growth is continually re-examined through life experience reflected in the nuances of time. What becomes evidently genuine is that these milestones are not placed into a bubble where importance is highlighted and superficially examined for commentary’s sake. Even the small things such as attending a Harry Potter premiere, receiving a less-than-appealing haircut, experiencing the virality of media, the mundane task of chores, the breakout of puberty, and the first road trip, were all important stops along the journey of life. These moments are left alone, letting the sum of all things speak for itself without explanation because viewers have been through much of the same circumstances.
As outsiders: we’ve watched, we’ve learned, we’ve grown. Seeing Mason grow the way he has is simply validation that we’re not all crazy—that all we really want to do is get by.
What’s particularly resonating (being a 90’s kid myself) is that it felt so real; as if I was watching my own life flash before me. There are no flourishes to hide the raw and honest poignancy it set to achieve. Linklater allowed Coltrane to grow into his character and integrated his [at-the-time] fads and styles into the role. Sure, there are scenes of teenage angst, emo and punk-goth phases, and blips of uncovered acne—but that’s that makes character studies so flawed, so whole, and so incredibly human. This film is perhaps borderline autobiographical in nature and I particularly enjoyed how each new phase in Coltrane’s life never required the time-stamped subtext to tell us where he is in life; no “1 year later” nonsense with time-jumps. And why should it? The progression of plotting is made seamless by letting life simply happen.
That’s what makes Boyhood so great. Watching this film is like re-opening that shoebox time capsule you’ve kept hidden away in your basement. Mason grows up with every memento you pull from the box and you remember how real your life has been and how important all these little nostalgic triumphs came to be in making you…well, you.
So in all honesty: nothing I say can really do the film justice. It hits me right in the feels to even make comments about this film, so just watch it if you ever get the chance. It’s kind of really special.