‘Boyhood’ Sounds the Call for Living Life Bold and Confused

I am an emotional movie-goer. I bawled through the last fifteen minutes of Les Miserables, resolved to embark for the Alaskan taiga after seeing Into the Wild, and walked around on a perpetually quirky high once I watched Little Miss Sunshine.

But the film ‘Boyhood,’ written and directed by Richard Linklater, brought up feelings more real, raw and intense than any film I’ve seen before. My mom and I went to see the film at the Red River Theater, an independent place in Concord, New Hampshire. We didn’t know much about the film, except that it was three hours long and it had gotten good reviews. 

‘Boyhood’ follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a 7-year old kid who grows into an 18-year old man by the end of the film. Filmed over a period of twelve years in three or four day increments, you can watch as the actors–literally–come of age. This angle’s been done so many times it’s become a genre, but Linklater’s portrait is not sentimental or gooey. The Vulture noted

“Linklater avoids big, definitive scenes, preferring instead to show us the smaller moments in between. One youthful sequence follows the excited Mason into a book release party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; later, when the more fully grown Mason asks his divorced father (Ethan Hawke), “Dad, there’s no real magic in the world, is there?” Linklater trusts you to fill in the gaps.”

Because of this documentary-like quality, I recognized pieces of my own life in the action on the screen. “There are four categories: what are you keeping from your childhood, what are you taking with you, what are you giving away, and what’s staying in the apartment,” says the mom (Patricia Arquette) to Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). They’re preparing for her move to her new apartment as a single empty-nester. Only the night before, I sat on my bedroom floor with my mom piling trinkets and souvenirs I’d collected for the past 22 years into boxes for the Salvation Army. If you’re a middle-aged parent or a college student, I can attest that this movie will be frighteningly real.

About two and a half hours after entering the theater, a silent flooding of tears slipped down my cheeks and pooled on my lips so I could taste the salt. Mason drove away from his family through the dusty Texan desert to his first semester of college. I decided ‘Boyhood’ is the best movie I’ve ever seen.

I could tell everyone the film made me sad. More accurately, it reflected and evoked the electric bundle of confused emotion which seizes us every day. ‘Boyhood’ made me angry, hopeful, giddy, fearful, indignant, and excited which many films can do. But what made this one better was the buzzing energy it created in the theater. The people all around me laughed, cried, and creaked around in their seats. Best of all, everyone sat silent for one holy moment between the final lines and the credits. As popcorn chompers, local-brew guzzlers, and Wednesday night recliners, ‘Boyhood’ left with the terrifying thrill that everything would be okay for Mason and his family and also for all of us. 

Don’t bother with trailer, just go see the movie.

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