A story filmed throughout 12 years, one of the most daring and original experiments ever made for an indie film. Boyhood by Richard Linklater is an epic journey in the ordinary life of an ordinary American family, which shows how life, in its natural and biological flow, is such an extraordinary thing.
The director is used to tell his stories as visual poems, made of characters, conflicts, dialogues that often turn into philosophical bricks of discussion about the meaning of existence. In this last film, Linklater takes his juicy style in dialogues and he mixes it with an attentive shaping of the frame and the image, forging a world that is brought up to the audience with a genuine, innocent and realistic approach.
The plot follows Mason’s life from childhood to the beginning of adulthood, and Linklater’s artistic operation dwelt to gather cast and crew for small periods of shooting throughout more than 10 years, thus to stand out the shift of the characters and of their interpreters as well. When the movie begins Mason is only a little boy who lives divided between his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke), and along with his older sister (Lorelei Linklater). Afterwards Mason’s arc of transformation, that more than an emotional twist is an existential one, is tended and paid off completely, showing to us how Mason moves, plays, falls in love, grows and matures, maintaining his initial personality, but developing it as he grows older and buys new awareness for life and his goal within it.
…Boyhood has a style that aims at destroying this net distance between reality and fiction…
The film is crossed by several situations that are good attempts to reconstruct all the difficulties, hypocrisies, and reactions that overfill real people’s existence, far beyond the borders of a movie. In this case though, Boyhood has a style that aims at destroying this net distance between reality and fiction, and it tries to convey the drama of the fiction with the vivid and intense depiction of a reality that could look the same we live in every day.
In order to capture the evolution of a family, Linklater used a supernatural photography, avoiding visual effects or filters, but presenting his story as naked and powerful as it was. The composition of the image is freezing and touching, and without going detached or aseptic, offers a perfect visual background for the transformation of the characters. They’re indeed the protagonists of this upside down marathon, and the choice to film them with mainly natural lighting but through a sincere and passionate cinematographic perspective, renders amazingly the sweet tragic-comic atmosphere which sneaks into any footage of this picture.
…we hear the voices of the characters like if they were free…
Linklater is fabulous in orchestrating all his collaborators towards the common goal to present a narrative of life and misery, of love and sadness, and in all of this we hear the voices of the characters like if they were free, not subordinated to the director’s vision. Mason’s thoughts and emotions are so affecting because they’re spontaneous and they come out as the actions and reactions of a 6 years old, or a 15, or 18 years old, and not as fake accounts of a 50 years old (the director) who speaks through his character.
Obviously a film that tries to seize the intensity and rhythm of real life might easily turn into an overwhelming soap opera, which would put the audience on the run shortly after the opening credits. Boyhood, despite the excessive time track (163 min) and a tale structure lacking of particular pick moments, is something that demonstrates the possibility to create something outstanding starting from the most simple and primitive topics, and have the camera capture them without the presumption to give it an interpretation or a judgment.
…a film like this is about the beauty of life…
In many scenes Boyhood could appear boring, pretentious, or have a direction that seems pointless and flat, but the truth is that a film like this is about the beauty of life, and its message is that life is something absolutely worth to be part of.
If Alfred Hitchock was right and cinema is life with the dull bits cut out, Boyhood is probably one of the few films that make the dull bits in life so exciting and emotional to watch.