Boyhood: An Honest Look at Growing Up

January 28, 2014 : 12:22 am | by Ben Elliot

Mason, age five

Mason, age five

Richard Linklater knows what he’s doing. Boyhood is a film about growing up, shot, appropriately, over the course of twelve years. It is incredibly honest in ways that few movies are. It’s never pushy or over-blown the way that many films of this sort can be. There is no definitive inciting incedent and the film thrives because of it. No single event defines the experience of growing up and the same is true in the film. It follows Mason (played beautifully by Ellar Coltrane) and his family from age five to eighteen. The film gives no definitive resolution to any particular problem and leaves us still wanting to follow Mason on his journey.

One scene in particular won me over, when Mason at around age 13 and some friends including two highschool seniors are sitting in an empty house drinking beers together. The boys are breaking wooden boards and chatting. They began to throw a buzzsaw at a piece of drywall together and, when one of the younger boys says something they don’t like, they make him hold the board while they punch it. Everyone in the audience was expecting the same thing at that moment, that they would punch through the board and hit him in the face, but, they break the board and the boy is unscathed. The relief in the crowd was audible, a kind of collective parental instinct lead them to expect the worst yet nothing came of it. But that’s the truth of being a young boy, you do lots of dangerous stuff and usually the worst that comes of it is the need for a band-aid.

Many conflicts in the film that one would normally think demanded resolution never got any. Rather, the family moved on. The film never gave easy answers, parents were still figuring it out just like their kids were. There are what-ifs and should-haves just as there always are. If you’re reading this, I assure you that there’s something in this movie for you, so, when it gets distribution I implore you to go and watch it.

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