Somewhere in the two-hours and forty-two minutes of Richard Linklater’s masterpiece you’ll find your mind wandering. Not because it’s boring or not engrossing but because Boyhood is a movie about reflection, one that begs for your nostalgia and capitalizes off of every person in the audience having grown up at some point. Or hoping they have.
It’s strange to talk about true Oscar contenders in the middle of July but Linklater delivers the ultimate summer film, not one of action or violence but one that meditates on what summer used to mean when you were growing up. It used to mean freedom, it used to mean independence, and as you get older it can be more confining. “Shit Happens” as the saying goes and over the course of the film you get to see it happen, see people deal with it, learn how to deal better, mature, act immature, and maybe even learn something.
Many other reviews will wax over Linklater’s time frame – shot over twelve years with a two million dollar budget – this became an obsession, the purest definition of a passion project and the clearest antithesis to anything the studios will ever put out. What’s more stunning is the consistency of every time period. How it moves through the years with boldness, without beating you over the head with the gimmick, lulling you into maturing WITH the movie.
This is not a home video. It’s the portrait of a particular time in life – some would call it the golden years and at twenty-seven with mounting bills and loans in repayment Boyhood will take you to a time where you trusted your parents to take care of you. But the central story of Boyhood isn’t just growing up it’s about the Boyhood of it all being taken away by divorce.
We’ve seen divorce in other films but none that really captures how it changes the environment of a family, of a psyche, of self-identification. To write more about that happens would rob you of the sheer immersion that is Boyhood. For all most three hours you get to be yourself during that golden era, and be someone else.
The tragedy on the periphery is that the MPAA has chosen to rate this film “R” even though it’s an important film for kids to see. In the same vein as BULLY this is a movie that may be most affecting to people in that 12 year span who just want to know what’s going on with their bodies, their minds, and their parents.
All in all Boyhood is a spectacular story about growing up. It delivers strong performances, beautiful cinematography, and masterful editing. It’s a master class on patience, perseverance, and how our perception changes as we age. Bring tissues, emotional availability, and relax. Let Boyhood take you back and bring you forward. If you’re like me you need it.