When I first heard about a movie that has been shot across a span of 12 years with the same cast, I was fascinated. There were so many challenges which the team of ‘Boyhood’ had to overcome. Each year the entire team had to be assembled to shoot for some time, the script was not complete when the movie started, and there was always a risk of losing someone in the 12 year journey. The very fact that is deviates from the path of conventional filmmaking in so many ways in itself a testimony to the fact that ‘Boyhood’ is a movie like no other.
I saw this movie last week and loved every bit of it. Though it stands at a little more than 160 minutes, for a moment I did not feel left out. The story is fairly simple. Mason is a 6 year old boy who lives with his single mother and elder sister, Samantha. As they move to different places and get adjusted to the new settings and environment along with the men who enter and exit out of their mother’s life, Mason grows up, right in front of our eyes. The transition across the ages is subtle and non-pretentious. There is no subtitle in the movie that shows Mason has now moved to the next year of his existence. The characters and the dialogues take you there automatically. One particular scene which remains with me even now is when Mason camps in the jungle with his dad. The depth of the dialogue is enough for you to understand that Mason has grown up.
Ellar Coltrane as Mason has given a stellar performance. We cannot forget the fact that as his character matures onscreen, so is he growing up, in real life. Isn’t that fascinating? Lorelei Linklater as Samantha, Mason’s sister is brilliant. Ethan Hawke as the estranged husband and father has also done a commendable job. Though the children stay with their mother, you realize towards the end of the movie that their father also had a pivotal role in shaping their personalities. But my favorite performance is that of Patricia Arquette as the mother and wife who struggles between her bad choices of men and her children growing up. The extra-ordinary depth in the character is portrayed so honestly and flawlessly.
But this movie belongs to one man – Richard Linklater, who had this wonderful vision, who painted a canvas so grand and magical that it feels surreal once you finish watching the movie. If the ‘Before ..” series enthralled you, this one will leave you speechless.