Last night I travelled an hour to Cambridge to see Richard Linklater’s Self proclaimed ‘indie epic’ Boyhood. I had been desperate to see it since reading Linklater’s interview in Sight & Sound Magazine. If you don’t know, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding the film due to it’s ambitious concept of filming over a period of 12 years using the same actors so you literally see the main character of Mason grow up on screen.
The film itself follows Mason and his family, and how they develop until Mason is 18. Although the film is a lengthy 165 minutes you are never bored and it is all filmed on 35mm film to keep the quality consistent but also nostalgic in a way. Boyhood is flawlessly written in story and character development and is definitely very character driven which is difficult to do under the best of circumstances let alone the planning this must’ve taken. Mason is constantly being told how to see life and what to expect, Linklater discusses this in Sight & Sound saying that “Everyone is sort of in your face all the time with advice when you’re a kid”. Mason is constantly being told what to think from different sources, which I think everyone can relate to. It also touches on the pressures of being a young person, a scene in which this stood out for me is one in which Mason, his friends and their big brothers are discussing women in a really derogatory way. And although Mason does not really join in, it was a really negative view that was being pushed onto him by his older peers and the younger boys join in so they can ‘fit in’.
What was pretty amazing for me, personally as a viewer was that the actor who played Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is only a few months older than me. So, the film often reflected parts of my childhood; such as the scene in which Mason dresses up and goes to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince which I also did as a child. These small references to the time period led me to relate to the film in a way I never have with another film. Linklater is successful in capturing the significant moments of the past 12 years in America such as discussing briefly the war in Iraq, George Bush and Barack Obama’s election. Also in selecting the popular music of each year, giving it authenticity it would be difficult to achieve had this not been filmed over 12 years.
I loved the film, it’s the best I’ve seen this year and I could write so much more about it, but to be honest the film speaks for itself.
Do yourselves a favour and just go watch it. You won’t be disappointed.