Thursday, August 14, 2014

Boyhood Review

On October 11th, 2007 at 9:54 PM, a new life came into this world, and I can still vividly remember hearing her cry for the first time, the moment it truly hit me that I had a daughter, the moment when I realized what unconditional love felt like. I had never met this tiny little person, I had never seen her, and obviously I had no clue how beautiful she would become inside and out as the years passed by, yet instantly all I wanted to do was grab her and never let go. She couldn't even open her eyes, yet she was my best friend in the world.

Early on, I wanted time to move quickly for some reason. I couldn't wait for her to stand up and walk across the room to my awaiting arms. I dreamed of having an actual conversation with her, one of meaning and purpose, filled with words that may actual impact her young, developing mind. The smile that would be plastered on my face anytime I pictured her sitting next to me during a film and experiencing the joy that art could bring, I spent far too much time trying to do the math on how long it would be before I could take her to the cinema and watch her expression as the lights dimmed. The future was a time of happiness and excitement and I couldn't wait for it to arrive.

I went into her bedroom and watched her sleep soundly for a few minutes last night after having my life truly enriched by the experience of viewing the film Boyhood, and I teared up when a simple yet profound thought entered my mind: where has the time gone? We recently began planning her 7th birthday, and no matter how hard I try the clock continues to tick away and the calendar flips at the end of each month. Time is relentless.

The admiration I have for Linklater not only attempting such an ambitious project but succeeding beyond my wildest dreams is incalculable, but what I want people to understand is that this isn't some pretty good film that is subject to absurd praise and hyperbole due to an innovative gimmick. A major reason why Boyhood is such an incredible cinematic experience is because we are watching this one boy grow up, we feel like we are a part of something special and personal and even though he was playing the fictional character of Mason, I can't help but feel as if I got to know Ellar Coltrane as a human being in the process. I met him as a bright eyed young boy looking up at the clouds, admiring the wonders of just how huge this world is, and over the course of twelve years I watched him transform, and it both overwhelmed me with happiness and broke my heart all at the same time.

The usage of music in the film will prove to be memorable and inspired, as I felt like I could connect certain songs with the periods of time they fit into and it brought me back to the past when I recall that song playing at a moment in my own life. I found I could relate to all of the dialogue throughout, both the words of a teenager hanging out with friends and also the thoughts and feelings of his parents as they deal with their own issues, their own relationships, their own scars. A performance issue may have popped up here or there with either a young Ellar or his fictional sister Samantha, played by Linklater's own daughter Lorelei, but not only are those very minor flaws to be expected from young, unproven actors, I actually found their imperfections to add to the incredible sense of realism that seeped out of every pore of the film. Not every word is said smoothly in reality, and not every child or teenager delivers thoughts like they were professionally trained in linguistics. These are human beings, flaws and all, and I adored getting to know them for the brief 165 minutes we shared.

I object to anyone who says that nothing happens in this film simply because some absurd, manufactured dramatic twists weren't tossed in the paths of these characters. When I look back at my life, sure I faced some obstacles, some dripping with bullshit even though I was too young and naive to know it like a girl not liking me when I was 14 years old, and some meaningful and impactful on my upbringing like when my epilepsy reared its ugly head and I was bullied at school as a result, but a vast majority of the days I have lived on this earth have been seemingly boring. I wake up, I live my life and rarely does anything eventful occur, and then I go to sleep and prepare to do it all over again. That's life, and it is a wondrous, beautiful thing. The chance to exist, the opportunity to love, the stumbles we experience along the way and the elation of true success and seeing the pride on the faces around us, all of these things are far more interesting than an action packed shootout or a choreographed sing a long at a school dance. Our lives and the people that fill them, the sunny days spent talking with my mother or the moments in which I felt like a disappointment, a failure, those are real, and I felt every possible thing Linklater intended to convey with this brilliant, powerful film.

Boyhood has a flow to it like poetry, a work so perfectly paced that I could have kept watching for hours more and never gotten tired of it. Sometimes the pacing of reality feels off, like these seven years spent with my amazing daughter have gone far too fast and I want to use all my strength to slow down time and appreciate each day with her at the age she is now. Unfortunately, it just isn't possible, and days will continue to begin and end, weeks will fly by and seasons will come and go. All I can do is be there, with her, and let life take its course, reveling in the beautiful days to come and holding on to those memories as the moments that were formerly reality fade into oblivion. The journey of young Mason is such an astonishing treasure, a life affirming historical moment in cinema that both works as joyous entertainment and also a reminder to never take the ones you love for granted.

I keep reminding myself not to succumb to hyperbole I would later regret, but I can't help what I am about to say because right now, in this moment I believe it: Boyhood is one of the greatest films I have ever seen.


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