“I just thought there would be more”. Wise words by Olivia Evans (Mason’s mom). Life has a way of drifting by. You’ll live each day and thoroughly enjoy some, but as you grow up, the days go by so much faster.
Boyhood is filled with gems of lines like these. Which hit you but never stand out when reading the transcript. They hit you. Then they leave you pondering long after the movie has ended. And in this way, it lays down various truths of life we tend to overlook.
The movie encapsulated the twelve year journey of Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane) and all that his life consists of. His elder sister Samantha(Lorelei Linklater), his divorced parents, Mason Sr(Ethan Hawke), Olivia Evans(Patricia Arquette), stepdads, Bill(Marco Perillia) and Jim(Brad Hawkins), friends and acquaintances, one of which is Zoe, his eventual first girlfriend.
Starting at the age of six with “Yellow” (Coldplay) playing in the background and working through to the age of 18, when Mason finally reaches college. The tale ends on top of a mountain about a short dialogue exchange about “Seizing the Day”. In between is his childhood, albeit troubled, which consisted of a divorce, arrowhead collection, riding bikes to Soulja Boy. His teenage years, with another divorce, invitations to parties, the late teenage years, with going to parties, coming home late, drunk and high. The usual. Kind of. Then a photography passion which led him to college on scholarship. All the while marred with stepfather troubles. One who was abusive and another who did not understand the concept of personal space.
The movie explores Mason Jr’s reality alongside all those surrounding him, which effectively makes this a documentary about humans in general. Their tendencies, actions, reactions, phases, ambitions and regret. There is no story (In a very idealistic sense). The characters are the story. The actors breathe life into those hollow words which form the characters. It is not a thrill or a ride. It is a ride on a smooth road with a gentle breeze with sunshine or no sunshine, as per your liking.
The road does have some speed bumps though. In its 166 minute runtime, it faces a common issue most films with such a runtime face. Except for the last three minutes, the third act of the film, I’d say roughly the last thirty minutes felt dragged and rushed at the same time. My primary issue was that I was unable to properly reflect on and mix with the characters like I had done for the remainder of the film. The last act consisted of the usual things coming full circle (Like a person you gave advice to at the start of the movie paying you back) and revelations and stuff already seen in far too many movies.
In the movie, what stood out for me were the performances of the cast, especially Ethan Hawke and Coltrane. Like I stated before, the actors breathed life into the characters. They were natural and confident. Now, I don’t know whether it was because they were almost the same age as the characters they portrayed or because they are darn good actors. But I’m going to say that they are good. Just this once.
On the whole, the movie stands out for its intricate and tightly bound narrative as well as a rather ambitious scope in direction, but it doesn’t stand out all that much. It’s perfect and a movie I will remember for a long time, and quoting its lines and the movie itself in discussions, but it is not going to last for all that long.