Richard Linklater took a cast and filmed them at certain periods throughout 12 years in order to give us a slice of life of a typical American child’s life which we experience through the eyes of Mason
The fact that Linklater was able to not only envision an idea such as this but take charge and mould everyone to his personal vision is extremely impressive and commendable. Sure the film meanders throughout and I would have liked to have seen more of certain aspects of Mason’s life, nevertheless ‘Boyhood’ captivated me within the first five minutes and the time flew by, ensuring that it hit every childhood trope Linklater could think of; divorced parents, abuse, first kiss, first can of beer, self discovery, sibling rivalry, etc. Linklater ensures to hit all of these notes so he can invoke enough of a nostalgia factor in its viewers in order for the film to become fully realised. This, I feel, is a notch against the film, at least for me because firstly, I’m not American so some of these nostalgia factors didn’t work for me and secondly, it makes the film feel slightly less genuine than it should.
The performances are absolutely astounding, especially from the four mainstays; Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. All four are utterly convincing and emotionally connect with the audience in such a way that it just becomes natural and within the first thirty minutes feels like I am watching a documentary. This is helped immensely thanks to Linklater’s idea of filming them throughout a 12 year span so we can see the characters age naturally and you start to feel like a member of the family.
The cinematography is beautiful, the songs used in the soundtrack are a blast from the past and amplify the nostalgia factor without it feeling forced at all. Linklater has pulled of an extremely ambitious project here, not only has he pulled it off though, he has made it captivating, warm and absolutely gorgeous.
‘Boyhood’ is not without its problems and definitely needed a better plot structure but the fact that that doesn’t stop me being absorbed into the film shows that not every film needs to be perfect.