Boyhood - Lets Hear it for the Boy
| Linklater's film Boyhood ends with a line about how moments "seize" us, how it is always right now. It is a statement about so much including our lack of control and the importance of mindfulness. And after watching moments go by, about 20 minutes of moments from a series of years, one after another, this kind of statement can really resonate.
Boyhood feels like Linklater's attempt to capture a period of time and a set of feelings, that way of experiencing the world we have between our childhood and our adulthood, the struggle, confusion and malaise of this period of exploration of self and our relationship to the world around us. He follows a young man through brief periods in his life or 12 years from childhood to maturity. The young actor was filmed for these years for a few weeks at a time so that he and his fellow cast would age and grow. The audience experiences this in just under 3 hours, seeing the impact of time's passing.
Linklater uses non-actors mostly and despite the weaknesses in the performances, this lends an autheticity to the scenes. The casting of Patricia Arquette is indicative of this cause she has never been able to act and this film doesn't prove that has changed. You feel less like you are watching a constructed narrative and more like peaking into someone's home movies. Also contributing to this is Linklater's choice to fill the film with mundane moments of normalcy. The film isn't structured typically to flow from one dramatic moment to the next but instead is a series of everyday, going through the motions sort of events. It is life in all its boring glory. Mason isn't exceptional. He is a boy.
And my emotions were turned to witnessing this boy struggle with the little big things boys struggle with, the misogyny and racism around and in him, the way the adults around him screw up their lives, the push towards modernity's expectations. Boyhood may be limited in its big drama moments (one example is a sequence on domestic violence which is quite chilling) but it generally eschews this for filling moments of quiet nothingness with undertones of serious gravity.
And I think that is the strength of Boyhood for me, the way it touched powerfully on things that we choose to simply accept as "normal". Mason and his story, despite any specifics, is powerfully relateable. Linklater has captured those moments in the way they capture us. This isn't nostalgia. No one would want Mason to go through any of that again, but it is a recognition of how those moments make us who we are.