Funny how both movies we’ve seen run to themes of family bonding with sons at the center. (For those of you who missed it, we saw Chef, too.)
Richard Linklater filmed Boyhood over 12 years, capturing actor Ellar Coltrane’s yearly development from childhood to adulthood. The film opens with young Coltrane as a 6-year-old and progresses until his high school graduation at 18. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play his parents; Linklater’s own daughter Lorelei plays his sister.
The movie was mesmerizing. Each year was its own tightly spun vignette caught up in whatever milestones and miseries are there to be lived at the time. Each year segues into the next at just the right moment. And because the scenes fit together so seamlessly, it was sometimes startling to see Coltrane’s character Mason mature before our eyes. In this time-lapse growth, I found myself watching the movie alongside memories of my own son’s transitions. Any mom of a son will connect with 10-year-old boy innocence, when they still smell sweet, when they will still cuddle with you, when they are still playful as puppies. She will also remember the turbulent times, and then recall those tentatively hopeful times when the ground seems to have solidified again, as if overnight.
The movie stayed with me for quite a few days and the more I thought about it, I began to feel almost, well not embarrassed exactly, but awed in a way that I had seen such an intimate portrait of a child’s growth to adulthood. I wasn’t expecting that feeling. This wasn’t a movie in the way we go to the movies expecting to experience a story. What I experienced in Boyhood‘s two and a half hours was a life unfurling before my very eyes. And while there was a script, it was loosely framed. In part, Linklater drew his scene plotting for each year’s filming from whatever might have been happening in Ellar Coltrane’s own life.
Home movies are one thing—you see a birthday party, you relive a graduation or a recital. Boyhood was something entirely different. It made me wonder what it would have been like to see my own life stitched together in such fashion.
Nah. Better to leave this to Hollywood. Although I can see a new industry being born—the “boyhooding” of all those troves of family videos.