To say Boyhood has accomplished those attributes would be a fair statement.
The film, directed by Richard Linklater, was created over the course of 12 years as little bits were filmed for a few days every year, showing the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from a 6-year-old to his completion of high school at 18. So not only do we experience character development in the way of emotional growth and maturity, we also see the physical changes year-by-year as well.
Almost documentary-styled, Boyhood focuses on Mason and his evolving relationships with his older sister Samantha (Lorilei Linklater), mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette), and every-other-weekend visits from his father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), as well as a naturally revolving cast of others who come and go depending on life situations.
One of the truly amazing things about Boyhood was how it actually grabs and maintains attention from start to finish. It’s a story that would never be exciting to follow in any capacity – film, TV series, book, etc – because of how normal it is. I realized quite early on that there wouldn’t be any jumping of the shark here, and if there had been, it would have been a disappointment.
Most of the individual scenes barely tie directly together with the others and in most cases, would be deemed insignificant as part of a greater story, but here the little things are what make the story. The beauty of Boyhood is how the little things are captured. Seemingly mundane things and events that most of us have experienced come together to create a story worth telling, watching and sharing. Simplicity is what makes it shine.
Contributing to the real-life feel is how well the actors interact with each other. Aside from the 12-year commitment of Coltrane, Arquette, Hawke and Linklater, other actors come and go and most stick around for a few years, depending on their relationships. There is a natural connection and progression.
Boyhood presents the growing up of a boy who fails to meet the strict standards of social and sometimes gender expectations. Occasionally we witness the criticism he receives by those he is expected to look up to, some of it subtle in mostly common and expected situations. It’s heartbreaking at times to see how these social standards and expectations can contribute to breaking someone down, all for the sake of normal, even if the intentions are good.
All in all, Boyhood takes our own reflections and memories and places them in a movie for all to see. Even if we don’t relate to Mason, or his mother, or anyone else in the film, we can all relate to some of the situations that are depicted within. And even if for some reason you can’t, you will walk away from this feeling like you have.