A film twelve years in the making, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of the most organic movies I’ve ever seen. From it’s opening shot of a young boy, Mason Jr., lying on his back, looking into the sky, to it’s final shots of showing Mason growing up and starting his first day in college, Boyhood is one of the most unique, and powerful films about growing up ever made. Of course an obvious comparison would be Michael Apted’s Up Series, that looks at the real lives of several individuals every seven years. But Boyhood works because it’s scripted. There’s been plenty of films that pride themselves on their realism, but never before have I seen life unfold in such a natural way as in the near three hours of Boyhood. We see Mason’s divorced parents, the handful of lesser men who his mother dates, his father’s attempts at being the “cool dad”.
Much like anyone’s life, Boyhood is made up of smaller, more intimate scenes that don’t seem like much, but it all adds up to something very special. By not giving us any obvious markers of the time period (although there are some nice musical touches that make things clear), it’s never confusing. There’s a series of years that the film goes through, but the final scenes are the best one here. Many scenes wouldn’t work in an ordinary film, and there’s even some lines delivered that would have sounded overly sentimental, but it works. Richard Linkater had already given us a story that spanned years with his romantic trilogy of films, Before Midnight, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, but Boyhood's compact runtime works in it's favor. We only get certain slices of Mason's life, but that's how life works. We don't have huge moments, just smaller ones that add up where we are now.
Rating; 10 out of 10.
NOTE: The R rating for this picture is one of the worst things the MPAA has ever done. Boyhood should have been a PG-13 film. It was rated R for “language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use”. If anyone should be watching Boyhood, it should be teenagers. And having teenagers do, well, teenage things like drinking and talking about sex isn’t shocking or anything. The MPAA needs to take a step back and realize the content and audience of a film.