For starters, there is no other movie quite like this one.
At its core, Boyhood is a 12-year journey with a boy named Mason (played throughout his life by Ellar Coltrane). The audience watches Mason as he becomes a young man. As he grows up, Mason moves all over the country, deals with his abusive stepfather, tries to figure out what he wants to do and be in life, and attempts to find common ground with his biological father during his weekend visits.
There isn’t always a conclusion or a happy ending to Mason’s problems. The men in Mason’s life constantly critique his behavior and appearance, but don’t seem to realize the effect this has on him. His parents don’t always apologize for their careless comments. His stepbrother and stepsister don’t escape the reign of their abusive dad. Life isn’t always fair.
Like every childhood, there are good moments, bad moments, first moments, and last moments.
I’ve seen all but one of the best picture nominees this year. Despite Boyhood’s unique setup of having the same cast for 12 years, this is the only one that didn’t feel like it was trying to win an Oscar. The other nominees felt like they were made to win Oscars.
Perhaps it was because all the others dealt with something much more serious than merely growing up. Selma dealt with the civil rights march to Montgomery in 1965, The Imitation Game centered on English mathematician Alan Turing helping the Allies win WWII but still end up being prosecuted for being homosexual, The Theory of Everything was about Stephen Hawking’s work and his debilitating disease.
Boyhood was about the simple truths of being a child growing up at the turn of the 21st century.
I was a little older than Mason during his journey, but my twin brothers were his age. I feel like this is the first movie that captured what it was like to be a child growing up during this time. There were so many moments that felt familiar, like I was looking at a snapshot of my own childhood.
His sister sings Britney Spears to annoy him, Mason gets taken away by the magic of Harry Potter and video games, and the ever-evolving technology of the world becomes both a blessing and a curse to his interactions with others.
What happens in the movie is not always a really important moment in the grand scheme of things, but they are moments that matter to Mason. For instance, we never see the birth of his baby brother, but we do see the moment one of his coworkers doesn’t show up to help him with the dinner rush.
I felt the frustrations of childhood and teenagerhood again as the movie went on. The expectations of Mason to behave and act a certain way reignited my own frustrations I had as a kid. I found myself thinking at numerous times: Why can’t these adults cut Mason a break?
This movie is an experience. This movie is a feeling.
In general, kids feel everything so much more strongly than adults. This comes across clearly in Boyhood.
- This deserves its Best Picture nomination
- Can we have a Girlhood, please?