Sunday, September 07, 2014

Movie review: Boyhood

I first learned of this movie through my friend Shawna Haase who told me of an epic film that related a boy's life journey over the course of 12 years, from early childhood to adulthood. The film is unique in that it was filmed over more than a decade (2002 to 2013), and the cast remained constant throughout. Viewers literally see the characters age as the movie progresses --a sort of time-lapse photography of human beings.

It's a sui generis endeavor, at least to my knowledge. And hats off to director Richard Linklater --firstly for conceiving it, and secondly for having the faith and wherewithal to see the project through. Reportedly, he told Ethan Hawke (who plays Mason Evans, Senior --the boy's father) that if Linklater died before the film was complete, Hawke would have to finish it.

The story recounts the life of Mason Evans, Junior, (played by Ellar Coltrane), a broken-home boy in Texas who lives with his mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samanatha (Lorelei Linklater). Olivia is a single mother and a student, struggling to earn her degree in psychology. The children's father, Mason, Senior, is a musician and song-writer and a concerned and loving father. Young Mason's tale is related through a series of scenes depicting significant moments in the boy's life: the family's move to Houston, a camping trip with his father, an abusive incident with his step-father, a painful breakup with a girlfriend, a graduation celebration, and so on. As the film unfolds, a varied cast of characters enter and leave Mason's life and viewers witness how this boy is shaped into a fine, good-hearted young man.

I found the film to be poignant and moving. It heart-breakingly depicts the stoicism and fair-mindedness inherent in children, and I found it impossible not to recall incidents in my own life as I watched. I have to imagine everyone in the audience felt the same. The dialog and acting are more than believable --this is how people talk; this is how people behave.

The film is longish, at 164 minutes, but I enjoyed every minute of it. When the credits rolled, I felt sad to say goodbye to Mason Evans and I wished him well.

It's a fine film, indeed, that can make you feel that way.

No comments: