By Sania Syed
Los Angeles, Calif.
Despite lacking the cinematic effects audiences have come to expect in major motion pictures, “Boyhood” manages to keep audiences enthralled. A fictional drama directed and written by Richard Linklater, the movie uses an unusual concept: It was filmed over the course of 12 years — using the same actors as they aged in real time to tell the story of a small child growing into a student entering college. As a result, one word encompasses the entire movie: realistic.
The film follows the life of Mason, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from age 6 through 18, beginning with his move to Houston with his single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). In the movie, Mason transitions through many situations, ranging from assimilating to new environments to learning how alcoholism contributes to domestic violence. Mason’s character changes from curious to careless in adolescence, but later matures into an intellectual artist. The movie also depicts his improving relationship with his estranged father (Ethan Hawke) and the evolution of his mother’s social standing.
One effective aspect of the film is the soundtrack, which signals transition in the lives of the characters by using music from different years. The music helps to give a movie that might otherwise have felt choppy some sense of fluidity.
The fact that Mason’s experiences are parallel to contemporary American culture also helps to situate the viewer chronologically. Through surrounding forms of technology, major political transformations, and even Harry Potter references, viewers can figure out when the action is taking place. The costumes and style choices also reflect the time frame, especially for the female characters.
Nothing all that dynamic happens in “Boyhood,” but this is a virtue of the movie. While the character of Mason, Jr. experiences the clichéd aspects of childhood such as divorce, sibling quarrels, bullying, and peer pressure, these are resolved not with enormous drama but in a realistic fashion: Life goes on.
Anyone looking to have a reflective experience about their own life should watch this movie. However, the viewer should go into the theater dropping all preconceived notions about movies.