Every so often, a movie comes along that seems to make the leap from cinematic experience into something more, something almost tangible – to the extent that it’s difficult to review because it feels like you’re reviewing a segment of your own life.
Boyhood walks into this category with an unassuming confidence.
For the uninformed, Boyhood was filmed over 12 years with the same cast and in doing so, setting the bar unassailably high for coming-of-age movies everywhere. It follows the life of Mason Jr, his sister Samantha, ever-present and devoted mother Olivia (excellently portrayed by Patricia Arquette) and every-other-weekend-dad, Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke.)
The relaxed plot flows at, well, a life-like speed. With every new scene each character is intently observed for the scars of growing a year older. In this sense, the title may be somewhat misleading. Our protagonist bears some of the most obvious marks of age; haircuts, jewellery and acne are the immediate giveaways. Press past the easily-noticed and it doesn’t take long to appreciate remarkable depth to the characters; the hurt burdened by Olivia after a a lifetime of demanding relationships stands out in particular.
Over two hours and 45 minutes Boyhood trickles to its ending at which point you embarrassingly realise you’re not actually in Texas anymore. Immersion happens quickly but not through murders, explosions or any other Eastenders-esque trickery. It’s the mundane that sucks the audience in.
The first few years of marriage I was often asked ‘How’s married life treating you?’ My replies were predictably generic because I was scared of saying that it felt normal – because normal sounds so ordinary, so pedestrian. But it did. My life as a married man was, and is, wonderfully and beautifully normal. The same could be said of Boyhood.
You see, expansive joy is available to us in the present. A conglomeration of moments, including: a chat with a friend, John 15, re-reading this blog, as well as this Thursday threads post, and Boyhood reminded me of the importance of living in the now.
As the movie draws to a close, we’re reminded of the terrifyingly shortness of life. Memories fade and merge together as if they never existed apart in the first place. As I stand on the precipice of parenthood, Boyhood has provided me with a timely and necessary reminder, don’t miss a moment.