As I was watching the final reels of Boyhood (a scene where Mason, an 18 year boy, is packing his belongings and preparing to leave his mother to study in college), I saw a middle aged lady sitting in front of me wiping her tears. Moments later, I was doing the same. We both were feeling heartbroken at the same scene, albiet for different reasons. The lady must have been reminded of the time when her son or daughter left to study or work, whereas, I was feeling nostalgic of the time when I left my home, my parents to pursue higher education. The situation’s same, but the perspectives, different. And that’s what is so strikingly magical about Boyhood. It doesn’t matter if you are somebody’s son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister. You will come out affected, even changed, as you watch the film from a perspective you choose to.
Boyhood, more than just a film, is an observance. An observance of a 6 years old boy growing up to become an 18 years old adult. An observance of what a mother has to go through to raise children. An observance of what a father means to his children and vice-versa. An observance of a family and their struggles, their joys, their sorrows. Basically, an observance of a life or rather, lives.
It doesn’t matter which country, city or neighborhood you grew up in, you will associate yourself with Mason; and the twinkle in his eyes; and the countless hopes and dreams in them, unmarred by the cynicism of the world around him.
Filmed over a period of 12 consecutive years, Boyhood is the longest shot film in history of cinema. And the results are magical to say the least. You see all the main characters age in front of your eyes in a span of 3 hours. (Not what you are used to seeing in movies where a child actor is employed to play hero’s younger self. Here, both the younger and older selves are played by the same actor(s)) To be honest, any amount of words will fall short of describing the beauty, the tenderness, the epic-ness of Boyhood. A film so deft in its design, and so fluid in its rendering, that after a while you might have to keep reminding yourself that what you are watching is a fictional family’s life captured on cinema, and not the reality of life itself.
Boyhood follows the story of a family whose youngest member, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is the central character (He is 6 when the story opens and 18 when it ends), though the film is not only about him. The film is also about his sister who herself grows from 8 to 20. It’s also about his mother Olivia (Patrcia Arquette) and her struggles with career, men, and raising 2 children. Finally, it’s also about his father (Ethan Hawke) who has divorced his mother and comes every once in a while to spend some fun time with him and his sister.
‘Boyhood’ relies on deriving beauty, joy and emotion out of the ordinary lives of people and not from any heightened act of drama (bread and butter for most of the movies). It’s fascinating to see how from scene to scene, not only are there changes in physicality of characters, but also you will notice the transformation in their fashion, hairstyle, taste in music, and in general, perspectives about life.