Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Mom's Take on 'Boyhood' -- Review

Ellar Coltrane was filmed over 12 years in Richard Linklater's "Boyhood."
As a mother, watching your children grow day in and day out is a strange blessing. What's amazing is being able to note when your child says a new word or develops a new skill. What's bittersweet is watching them pass into a new phase -- as Will is doing now, learning new words and understanding more every day.

Sometimes you just want to stop time, press pause and savor each inarticulate yet joyful moment. (Sometimes, admittedly, you'd like to see bedtime come a little quicker.)

Imagine if all of that were in fast forward.

In Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," a movie that was filmed over 12 years using the same principal actors, including the titular boy himself, Ellar Coltrane, alongside Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelai Linklater, we get to see this child change from little kid to tween to teen in a matter of hours. (The movie is 2 hours, 44 minutes, which in theater time is long, but is a relatively short 12-year span.)

The movie hits L.A. theaters on Friday, July 11, and opens nationwide on July 18.

Coltrane plays Mason, a boy who lives with his single mother (Arquette) and older sister (Lorelai Linklater, Richard's daughter). His estranged father (Hawke) comes back into their lives after being away in Alaska for more than a year, seemingly in search of some maturity. In his life, Mason goes through the ups and downs of childhood -- harsh stepfathers, crushes, moments of wondering who he is and who his parents are -- all while his mom and dad are going through their own endless transitions, too.

Arquette as Mason's mom is a strong force, acting as the constant in her children's life. Although she works hard to improve their lives -- going back to school, for one -- she seems to fall into some of her own regular mistakes. The same goes for Mason's dad, who can't seem to hold down a job.

What was amazing to me -- besides the concept and stellar execution of the filmmaking itself -- was how moved I was by watching this child grow up in front of me. While as a mother, I found myself questioning this mom's choices and sometimes blase reactions to what I would consider serious problems, I was nevertheless moved by simply watching life unfold -- just as I'm watching it unfold in my own family.

At one moment, toward the end of the film, she remarks on a picture her son is packing away and what it means to her -- he has little idea of its impact -- and this triggers a kind of wake-up call to what viewers are seeing for themselves. That time passes, and oh so quickly.

It's funny to watch Linklater, who is famous for his movies that take place over 24 hours ("Before Sunrise," "Before Sunset," "Before Midnight"), do the opposite and stretch time for as long as he possibly can, and in the process do what every parent has to do: let go and allow the boy to become a man.

Special Screening at the Arclight Hollywood
Q&A with Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke
Saturday, July 12 (7:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m. 9:30 p.m.)
Click here for tickets.

1 comment:

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