Boyhood (2014)
July 20, 2014 8:51 AM - Subscribe

The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It's impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey. - Sundance Release.

Boyhood on the blue
posted by mysticreferee (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed this quite a bit. Something I noticed throughout the movie was that there were a lot of quick moments that don't seem to pay off in any traditional narrative sense, but I think were included to feel like small but vivid memories that Mason might carry with him unconsciously and would help to form his personality as he grows.

I also think that there were scenes that were designed to terrify the parents in the audience, and/or were meant to make everyone feel like a terrified parent for a moment...There were little things that seemed to be set up to conclude with Mason being injured in some way, but then nothing bad happens. I think Linklater wants you to feel protective of Mason as he matures and starts heading off under his own steam.

(Avoiding providing examples here...Can we go ahead and spoil?)
posted by doctornecessiter at 3:59 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a moment where Ethan Hawke's character gives Mason a compilation of solo songs by the members of the Beatles, which he calls the "Black Album." Apparently Ethan Hawke originally made it for his real life daughter, and inside are liner notes that he adapted slightly for the film.

The liner notes are really a great little read, full of love from a father to his son. Here's a link, along with track list:

Ethan Hawke’s Heartwarming Tribute To A “Boyhood” With Music
posted by malapropist at 6:43 AM on July 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

This is a really good film. As Doctornecessiter sort of notes, the narrative rhythm is pretty unique. It blows my mind that they actually pulled it off (Lars Von Trier started a similar project but gave up) and, while the big hook is that you literally see the actors/characters age on screen, it's no less remarkable for showing Richard Linklater maturing as an artist alongside them. It's a film that grows into itself as you watch, with the later reels displaying a coherence and focus that aren't quite in evidence in the early going. I'm surprised there's so little discussion of it here.
posted by Mothlight at 7:44 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I really want to see a location map - i recognized the majority of the Austin shots & Alpine/Sul Ross university, but that 2-story house set in San Marcos-- I've driven by it a million times, & can't quite place it.

Left the theater with so much to think about - one I could happily watch again & again looking for new subtleties, cultural markers, etc. The writing of the film had to evolve over time too, as there are plot points that didn't exist in 2002 when they started. Linklater's attention to detail in marking time with the little things like the game consoles, phones, desktop iMacs, etc. was really remarkable. He was able to leave out the AND NOW IT'S 2006 clapboards because of his careful attention to continuity, and grounding each segment in its present time. Much more to look for there, just as eye candy.

Also, Patricia Arquette tuned in an Oscar-worthy performance, and if she isn't recognized for it, it will be a goddam crime.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:47 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

The movie hit the tone button perfectly in typifying a certain kind of suburban middle-class existence in the 80s and 90s. In three short hours, it really seemed to me that I lived 12 years with this kid -- even though it in fact skipped a lot of prototypical growing-up kinds of moments (e.g. losing virginity). That's because in and through the moments it did cover, it consistently seemed to sing just the right mood and atmosphere.

I enjoyed the fact that the parents were not stereotypical. The father, though not perfect, was loving and at times wise. The mother when confronted with domestic violence did not find a million excuses to stick around.
posted by shivohum at 8:19 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I actually haven't seen the movie yet. My slowest burning Mefi comment was posted in this thread and was this.

Also, Patricia Arquette tuned in an Oscar-worthy performance, and if she isn't recognized for it, it will be a goddam crime.

That would be good enough for me.
posted by Elmore at 3:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hawke was good, don't get me wrong. His slow transformation from Rebel Asshole to hey, I'm a dad sorta, to full-on Family Guy was very well played. He had a little sorrow about having to let the past be the past, but moved on to what came next, like a real, normal person who matures. His character was pretty fully-realized. Arquette however, was simply outstanding.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've never seen a movie like this. It was an experience where I really truly cared about the characters in the same way I care about the people in my life. I just saw it tonight, and I feel like crying, but not out of sadness or joy, just from having been through a moving experience.

Arquette's final monologue really got to me. The specifics are different, but her character's arc is so similar to my own mother's as someone raising two kids on her own, barely holding on at some moments. That monologue - she's said something similar to me, and I didn't know how to respond. Is this all life is - a series of milestones, trying to create a normal life for yourself, struggling to get things together, until your funeral? I... don't know. As Mason said (paraphrasing): "I don't think my Mom has anything figured out any more than I do." We're all kind of clueless, aren't we.

Sorry. Heavy thoughts with this one. I'm ecstatic at this artistic vision though.
posted by naju at 1:02 AM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

(Nerd trivia: was that Austin diner scene somehow a reference to Slacker?)
posted by naju at 1:08 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You know, my ex-wife's living room has a bit part in Slacker, but I've never seen it. Austin has always had a few all-night breakfast-type diners over the years that have come & gone. Lazy Daisy in the 80's was a big one near campus -- we use to go there for dinner after closing down the Filling Station at 2 AM & the place was always full, & unpredictable. The waitor or waitress was just as likely to be the crazy person as the guy sitting alone in the booth. These days, it's Starz Inn on I-35, I think. There's not a single one that's iconic though -- they come & go as the years march by. I couldn't identify the diner, which I was curious about a location map.

The one thing that we noted that was totally un-realistic in the entire film was the drive from San Marcos to Austin up the interstate -- where was the crazy traffic? They must have shut the freeway down to film that scene because there is literally no time of day ever when it's not full of semis going 60 mph & Ford X350 Diesel Extendo-Cab pickups going 80 mph. It's a hellscape that they drove through in an almost fuge-like dream state. Which I wonder if, that was the statement, or if trying to actually film on the interstate with traffic was just too nuts of an idea.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2014

I just wanted to echo Devils Rancher in saying that I'm so glad there were no subtitles for the current year, which allowed everyone who just lived through those 12 years to relate to them organically. My best friend told me about when a certain song came on (crap, I can't remember which one now), he remembers when he was obsessed with it, and although he (and I) are ten years older than Mason, it was an obsession of a certain time; in fact, the same time as it was played in the film. I have read a lot of internet commenters' reactions about the film, and this has been a common strain: people identifying with, yes, I was playing Pokemon in 2002, I was at the Harry Potter midnight book release, I was listening to this song in that year. It's remarkable how organically this film is able to remind us of the nostalgia of times just a handful of years gone by.

I remember there was this one shot of text messages on an iPhone 3G, which I had before my current 4s, which is just two generations ahead. I watched that shot and knew that I had had a particular experience with my friends through this gadget that will never quite exactly happen ever again. I'd forgotten it was possible to be nostalgic about three years ago.
posted by malapropist at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wow. Just came back from it and was pretty blown away. Easily the best new movie that I've seen this year. What a freaking accomplishment to plan a twelve year experiment like that and actually manage to pull it off. I'm guessing that the editing much have taken a long time, trying to put together a cohesive narrative out of all those years of footage.

It was a little creepy how closely some of the stuff paralleled my life as a divorced parent of an arty boy who's mom is a psychologist.
posted by octothorpe at 8:05 PM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh and oddly the movies that this most reminded me of were the Toy Story trilogy. Linkletter made the reference pretty explicit with the "YO" on the back of Mason's Toyota truck but both of them follow a suburban boy who lives with his mom from about 6 years up until he leaves for college.
posted by octothorpe at 7:59 AM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I just saw this movie with my old childhood neighbor who I've known since I was 3. We went back home and barbecued and reminisced on our boyhood for about 8 hours after seeing it.

To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the movie as a movie, but I don't think any movie like this will ever be made again. I know I'll want to watch it again when I'm older and the memories of being a kid are further away. All of the cultural and technological touchstones that Linklater gets are so utterly perfect that it put me directly into my shoes as those things were happening. When we saw Halo and the Gameboy Advanced SP on the screen we both turned to each other and were like "Remember when..." before we remembered we were in a movie theater and probably shouldn't be talking.
posted by azarbayejani at 11:24 PM on August 31, 2014

Just finished watching this a few minutes ago. Honestly, I can't think of a thing that was wrong with it. (Except for Ethan Hawke's mustache. And that that dick Prof. Bill would have been fired for getting together with the mom.)

I kept having this sense of "oh my God, don't DO that!" when Mason was, for example, hanging out in the construction site playing with the saw blade. Like, his friend was about to kick the board, and I was so sure that the friend holding the board was going to get his head split open because the blade was behind him. And so much drinking! Apparently I am truly a mom now.

But my husband said, "I think that's what Linklater's trying to do: it's not a traditional narrative with big plot points and climaxes, so you can't expect them to happen."

It felt real. It didn't feel like they were acting. I kept exclaiming at some new feature of his face or body: the sudden depth of his voice, the way he moved, his facial hair, the way he did NOT take the beer (I'm such a prude).

Excellent performances by everyone else, who didn't make it feel like a performance.
posted by Madamina at 9:13 PM on January 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

We just watched Boyhood. It's more like "I can't wait for this kid to grow up so he can do leftover scenes from Waking Life."
posted by Catblack at 8:52 PM on January 20, 2015

All I can really say right now is Holy Crap that was an amazing movie. One thing that astonished me about it was just how utterly natural it felt. When I first heard about it, I had a little resistance to the idea, thinking basically that it was sort of a gimmick. Not a thing felt gimmicky to me about it. So many stories unfolded in the scenes we didn't see, too, like the deterioration of Jim's life from the time he is an excited student, to where he's a positive and stable figure as Mason's stepfather, to his anger and frustration when life holds nothing more meaningful than being a corrections officer. And then, time marches on, and he's gone, out of their lives for good.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:34 PM on January 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

I just saw this. As an actuary from Texas, how could I not love it! Really great movie and I loved the fact that you see the actors age like real people and the viewer was not distracted by bad makeup or CGI. Although I loved the movie, as Mason grew up I liked his acting less and less. Like edeesy said "As striking as Mason's transformation over the years was it never really seemed like I knew much about him. I knew his circumstances"
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:46 PM on May 25, 2015

We never really see the big moments, but the shape those moments have in their life. It's not about the wedding or how Jim and Olivia get together, but how that impacts the kids lives. It's so unique, I don't really know how to think about it.
posted by Carillon at 9:55 PM on February 21, 2022

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