When watching Boyhood, one can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia.
Watching Richard Linklater’s film, about the life of boy from age 5 to 18, was like watching my own life in fast forward.
The film’s well-publicized, innovative development took place over 12 years. Linklater cast 5-year-old Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and his daughter, Lorelei Linklater, and got them together for a few weeks every year to film some new scenes.
The script couldn’t be static, since no one could know what would happen in the world over that time, and Linklater, with the cast, wrote the screenplay over the course of the dozen-year filming.
And the result was a remarkable achievement.
Boyhood’s brilliance lies in its simplicity. It doesn’t try to do too much but show us the life of a completely unspectacular boy as he goes from first grade to twelfth. Along the way, he fights with his sister, receives advice from his dad, watches his mother go through hard times, meets girls, and gets his heart broken by some of them.
Basically, what all boys go through.
Its emotion is imbued in its humanity. The characters are real, identifiable and remind us of our own family.
What impressed me most is the transitions. One would think that by showing scenes years apart, you shouldn’t expect a fluidity from one to the next. But there is. You don’t even notice the passage of time until you see the characters, and how they’ve aged.
Every now and then, Linklater will zoom in on a piece of technology — a Game Boy, an iPod, Xbox — to indicate the passage of time.
A well-chosen soundtrack with songs depicting their coinciding eras also guides us through the 2 hour and 45 minute ride.
Don’t expect any plot twists with Boyhood. It’s a film about reflection and time, all at once. But in another sense, it’s about the right now. The present. Living in the moment.
You’ll whip through 12 years faster than you ever knew you could. But somewhere along the way, you’ll realize that you’re witnessing a masterpiece.