Boyhood follows the journey of Mason Evans, Jr. from boyhood to adulthood. Through his eyes, the film explores subjects that are relevant to most of us. Bullying, abuse, and changing family dynamics are just a few of the topics explored by the film. If you’re thinking that you’ve already seen these before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Boyhood gives a realistic portrayal of each of these topics. Yes, there are no big moments in the film. There are no car crashes, explosions, epic kisses or big brawls. However, this simply makes every moment of Boyhood feel just as important as the next. And isn’t that what life is – A series of seemingly unimportant moments that come together to form something beautiful?
Over the course of the film, Mason evolves from a boy wondering why his parents aren’t together anymore to a young man trying to find his place in the world. Along the way, he faces many struggles; including an alcoholic step-father, abuse and not having a real home.
Perhaps one of the best things about Boyhood is its realistic transition through time. And there’s a reason behind this, too. For this film, Linklater followed the same set of actors for 12 years. Though we wondered if it would’ve just been easier to use different actors, we immediately bit our tongues once we’d watched the film. Boyhood has an authenticity about it, which films spanning a large timespan usually lack. What’s better? The movie doesn’t spell things out for you. When Mason’s mother attends a class about Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, the film shows you a side of society that has turned into something similar.
Similarly, it doesn’t tell you what year it is or how old the characters are at any given time. Instead, you can infer it from the pop-culture references and the songs playing in the background. Yes, who could’ve guessed that songs from Oops!… I Did It Again and High School Musical would serve as timestamps?
Speaking of the soundtrack, it does more than just act as a timestamp. The music is a perfect blend of upbeat pop numbers and folk tunes that enhance the viewing experience. They perfectly set the scene without taking away from what’s important. Ethan Hawke also shows off his vocal chops on three tracks, adding another feather to his cap!
The actor also delivers a remarkable performance, in the capable hands of Linklater. He is awe-inspiring as the biological father who tries to be more than some guy the children make small talk with on weekends. In fact, all the actors are notable in their respective parts. So notable that the film often feels like a look into the lives of a real family.
Though Boyhood isn’t exactly what one would categorize as a "happy film", it’s still a film that will make you happy, while also making you think. All things considered, it gets one very important message across. Sometimes, the next big step (whether it’s college, your dream job or a marriage) isn’t life-altering. Things don’t always magically fall into place, and that’s okay because life goes on.
Why should you watch this film?
Boyhood is a beautiful film that explores both the simplicity and the complexity of life. No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, you will be able to relate to some aspects of Boyhood. Watch it if you’re looking to enjoy a coming-of-age film that explores the beauty of life.