“Boyhood” is a film that all college students should see and experience as soon as possible. It is a time capsule of our generation and a fantastic depiction of who we are and who we were as American adolescents growing up in the 21st century. “Boyhood” is a coming of age film written and directed by Richard Linklater, known for his movies like “Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” and the “Before” trilogy. The anticipation for this film began when Linklater released that he would be shooting a twelve-year epic in his hometown of Houston, Texas. From 2002 to 2013, the cast would reassemble each summer to shoot what was originally referred to as the 12 Year Project.
Linklater wanted to tell a story of, “a parent-child relationship that follows a boy from the first through 12th grade and ends with his going off to college.” Cast as that young boy was six-year-old Ellar Coltrane who would unknowingly become the star of one of the most ingenious films of its time. The only problem with casting a six-year-old as the star of an ambitious twelve-year tale was that Coltrane would ultimately grow up in ways that Linklater could not predict. However, Linklater was willing, “to adapt the story to whatever [Coltrane was] going through.”
With a rough outline in his head, Linklater did not bother to write an entire script. Scenes would be written the night before a shoot, incorporating the thoughts and ideas of the cast into this collaborative process. The film begins with six-year-old Mason Jr. and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, daughter of Richard) living with their struggling single mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Trials and tribulations are inevitable as we see the family grow and change over the years.
Unlike other films, we have never seen characters grow so drastically in such a small span of time. The years fly by in a blur as certain elements mark the progression of time. As a prepubescent tween, Samantha is seen wearing the dreadful outfits from Limited Too that we all yearned for at some point in our lives. Computers and antiquated Gameboys trigger our memory, while music ranging from Blink 182 to Soulja Boy plays in the background. These detailed aspects of the film are what make Boyhood so pertinent to our generation. Not only did these things influence Mason’s childhood, but they influenced ours as well. Comparisons do not just stop at the cultural and material. Relatable issues such as divorce, abuse, adolescence, and sex are openly discussed as Mason continuously attempts to discover his true identity. As an audience we can all sympathize with the struggle of overcoming adolescence and rising to adulthood, simultaneously facing our fears of the unknown and the uncertainties of our futures.
Witnessing this growth, “Boyhood” is an examination of the human condition. The film emphasizes the fact that there is no norm in society. While we may come from many different walks of life, we can all relate to both the hardships and achievements in life.
It is clear that “Boyhood” is a film unlike any other and it is shocking that a concept such as this had not been explored earlier. Perhaps Linklater’s originality will spark a new trend of showing time progression in film. Whatever the case may be, it will be Linklater accredited with a sense of originality. After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2014, “Boyhood” has received much critical acclaim. Not only is the film recommended for its visuals and technique, but also for its deep and moving storyline. “Boyhood” is without a doubt one of the best movies of 2014, and will hopefully receive continued success as award season approaches later this year.