By Ashley Nava
El Paso, T.X.
The movie theater is a darkroom, and much like a photograph, the characters develop from the negatives before our eyes. The movie “Boyhood,” filmed over the course of 12 years by Richard Linklater, has revolutionized cinematic storytelling.
Told through the eyes of Mason, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), Linklater modified the film’s script each year to accommodate changing events during the filming process. This groundbreaking method presents “Boyhood” as a literal coming-of-age film.
We see the film through Mason’s eyes, between the ages of 5 and 18. Throughout the film, Mason’s mother (Patricia Arquette) cycles in and out of abusive relationships. They move from place to place as she tries to improve their quality of life.
A wave of nostalgia inundates the audience and takes them back to 2000 with the opening scene, while the whimsical guitar chords of Coldplay’s “Yellow” resonate through the theater. Music proves to be a key component to Linklater’s method of storytelling: Playing time-sensitive songs transports the audience back to when the songs had just come out.
Technology plays a similar role, and viewers can observe how it effected human interactions over the last decade. In one moving scene, Mason rants about technology blocking people from fully engaging in the moment. At the same time, his girlfriend’s face is glued to her iPhone screen, further illustrating his point.
Fundamentally, this is a film about a boy attempting to figure out himself and the meaning of life. Gradually, the photograph on the screen begins to come to life, as each experience shapes and molds Mason. The metamorphosis from baby fat to acne to stubble exemplifies the awkwardness of change. The trends of each year are also apparent, as Mason’s hair goes from short, to long, to short, and finally back to long.
The movie plays out in the way one reminisces about life. While some might argue it was a bit cliché, we must remember that life in itself is a cliché: a series of milestones that eventually leads to a final one — death. Small, insignificant events combine with drastic, life changing ones to tell the story of any person.
In the end, Linklater’s photograph develops into a high-resolution image that represents a life. This true work of art is captured in a few simple words from the film: “It’s, like, always right now.”