Film: "Boyhood"; Cast: Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Elijah Smith and Steven Prince; Director: Richard Linklater; Rating: ****
Sometimes you just want to break free. Free from the cluster and cacophony of life, trying to gauge the meaning of life with; what you are and what you want to do. And "Boyhood" with its slow meandering unconventional narration is a perfect film for both, a reflection of the imperfect lives we lead and an ode to growing up and parenting.
With life's few bitter-sweet truths, Linklater's "Boyhood" is a "coming of age" film that portrays the big American family with "yours, mine and ours" scenario.
Seen through the protagonist, Mason's point of view, the film is a journey of self discovery. Here, Mason and his older sister Samantha, spend most of their time with their mother Olivia. Their largely absent biological father Mason Sr. shows up at regular intervals.
Through the ups and downs of life as years pass with talks about commitment and discipline, we witness first loves, graduation celebrations, break-ups, doing a menial job to support oneself, squabbling as well as bonding with siblings and arguing with parents.
Although the constant driving dramatic force of the film is Mason finding his own sense of self, the tale is not about just one person growing up. It's the family, which is anchored with the fact that the biological parents love their kids. They are trying their best they can to raise them while struggling desperately though their own confused sense of self.
Shot over a period of twelve years, the film is an ambitious and beautifully realised drama where you actually witness the cast evolve and mature on screen.
Ellar Coltrane as Mason is magnetic and soulful. We first see him as a pensive 6-year-old who gradually evolves and grows on you. He never seems out of place.
Similarly Patricia Arquette, as Olivia, Mason's mother is impressive. We see her as a distressed single mom who unconditionally loves her kids and gradually pulls the reigns of her life to give them the best she can. She shines.
So do Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater as Mason's biological father and sister respectively. They bring a certain charm to the characters that make them lovable in spite of a few evident negative traits.
Though the twelve year journey of the characters is predictable with emotionally manipulative plot points, what makes the narrative defy simple description is that it makes you nostalgic and relate to the turn of events.
The interactions between characters are so true, sweet and honest. When 8-year-old Mason tells his father - "Dad there is no real magic in the world right? Like elves in the world" Or His father telling him at 16, "Crying over any silly girl in high school is waste of time." Or his mother telling him at 18, "I am gently trying to push you out of the nest." Or, "I wish we were better parents and I hope you learn from our mistakes." The dialogues too are interesting, simple and touching.
The background score and music too is well incorporated especially with Mason Sr being a rootless young man who wants to make it as a musician. Breaking into a song seems like a natural process in the narration.
Visually the look in the film is quite consistent. It offers a curious sort of visual experience, where the moments are precisely captured. The few vivid scenic shots canned by the wide angle lens give this film that extra cinematic boost apart from the 12 years of growing experience.
Overall this film which is meticulously crafted is a cinematic delight that constantly reminds you of your own journey.