Innocence to Experience

Boyhood

boyhood

Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Marco Perella, Jamie Howard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys-mbHXyWX4

Texan director Richard Linklater’s 12 year cinematic achievement, Boyhood comes to life in a 164 minute film which seamlessly blends the course of existence for Mason from aged 6 to aged 18 is both fascinating and compelling. The fact that the director used the same four actors to make up the quasi nuclear family is equally impressive.

Ellar Coltrane plays Mason, the central character in Boyhood along with the director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater who plays Mason’s on screen drama queen sister Samantha and Hollywood veteran actress Patricia Arquette as his struggling unpredictable mother along with Linklater favourite Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) as Mason’s drifter musician father Mason Senior.

In that rambling talkative style which has become a trademark of Linklater’s films, Boyhood as seen at the Durban International Film Festival is shot all over the director’s home state of Texas from Houston to Austin and even rural parts of the state, as the journey from innocence to experience for Mason as he along with his sister is dragged by his mother to many step-families with a variety of equally unimpressive stepfathers from the cruel and vicious psychology lecturer to the Afghanistan war veteran.

As the children change schools as the mother moves around in search of a better life and career opportunities, cinema goers gradually see the development of the central character as he charts the difficult teenage years, while Linklater provides a fascinating socio-political commentary of American daily life, from the effect of foreign wars on the average population, to the financial crisis, to the usurping influence of technology on the children’s lives as they become teenagers.

The three sections of the film is separated by the family or one of the family members making road trips signifying a different phase of their average but equally interesting lives. The viewer follows Mason’s school years as he succumbs to peer pressure, discovers the mysteries of the opposite sex to eventually having his first sexual experience in his sisters college dorm room.

Despite the length of Boyhood, Richard Linklaters script remains pertinent and fascinating as he provides an insightful analysis of the cultural cornerstones of American 21st century society from religion to guns to politics and even to the environment. Fans of Linklaters triptych, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, will be in familiar territory and will surely acknowledge that this is the directors most significant and ambitious cinematic achievement especially because of his lack of any aging makeup or special effects, the mere fact that this film, Boyhood was imagined and conceived in real time makes it even more remarkable, one of the reasons that Richard Linklater won the Best Director prize at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival.

Patricia Arquette (True Romance) and Ethan Hawke are clearly competent actors to hold their own in such a cinematic canvas as are the two child leads with Ellar Coltrane’s nonchalance clearly perceived at every transformation of Mason’s character as he goes from childhood innocence to young adult experience. Boyhood is highly recommended art house viewing and a dynamic cinematic tribute to American socio-political commentary, while remaining a classic Richard Linklater masterpiece.

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