For that particular segment of the Internet that frequented this blog and maybe even followed it with some kind of keenness I am fully aware of the long hiatus and that it must appear as though I stopped caring about it completely. Maybe; maybe not.
Losing inspiration is the second hardest thing a writer person faces, obviously second to writer’s block. Over the past few months my life has gone through some radical twists and turns and I’ve never felt such extremes of happiness and sadness in such a short time-span. You’d think life stretches out so as to exaggerate everything you feel to make you feel things more deeply, suffer more intensely. Whenever these bouts of chaos have come forth and my writing took a backseat I always came back with an explanation, coherent or otherwise.
However, at this point I offer no excuses. I know of no reason why I wrote those few things and deleted them before sharing. I don’t know why I believed that having to spend a part of my day at a place I dislike should come in the way of who I am and what I love doing. I wanted to blend in and disappear. I wanted to not have a say and therefore stopped writing. How in the world was that going to help, I know not. I read a motivational poster the other day – and I daresay I’m not even a fan of those – but it brought me back to where I should be, where I was before I went astray and snubbed everything and everyone who cared about me. “Stop doing what you’re doing and start doing what you love”.
So here I am.
Boyhood is a once-in-a-lifetime piece of cinema and you should feel quite fortunate that you were born in an era where you could witness this beautiful rendition of a family through a period of twelve long years.
That being said, I would like to say that even though I’m absolutely blown away by the effort that was put in by the team in making a period movie like this come to life and not fall through the debris because of any sort of reasons, I’m still so impressed by the story and sequence of events – as a whole – that it’s almost possible to ignore all of that. To not commend the fact that the same characters and connections were relived for twelve years would be preposterous. Anything could’ve happened to anyone. Although contracts can be binding and although actors pledge their commitments, things can still happen. People die, too, you know. So many odds, uncertainties and yet Boyhood was completed, I would even like to say accomplished in the most aesthetic and wonderful manner.
Boyhood brought me back to writing. If that isn’t enough for me to sell this movie to you, I think you should stop reading this review right now. I like to believe that once something leaves an impact on you, you have two choices. You can either tell the entire world about it or you can revel in it alone and feel a kind of joy no one else needs to experience because they don’t deserve it. I’m so often the latter and then Boyhood happens to me and I think that even if I watched it multiple times I would still be dying to talk about it with someone. So as you might’ve figured by now, this movie did the two main things for me that I always look for. Boyhood single-handedly pleased me and destroyed me with its almost flawless capture of the ephemeral nature of time.
I’m an absolute sucker for movies that try their best to sum up human existence in a matter of few hours, and from what I’ve noticed almost every genre attempts to do that these days. We aren’t telling that many fairy tales anymore. We don’t like movies that are too good to be true anymore. We like the idea of being reminded of our ephemeral lives and that life is short, you live, you laugh, you cry and eventually die. Death is imminent and movies that remind you of that to the point of making you wail for fictional characters are a shining example. Even sci-fi these days is so much more emotionally intense.
Boyhood is simply a glimpse into the life of a boy named Mason through adolescence and teenage. It is a series and sequence of events in Mason’s life through a period of twelve years and if you take a step back and notice, a rather micro approach. Boyhood does not attempt to cover everything. It is not trying to overachieve and present to you an epic indie film type insight into boyhood. So many ways in which the movie could’ve made a cliché out of itself, yet it strings along, subtly. Rather beautifully.
There’s really not much I can say about Mason’s life without sounding like I’m talking about my life or yours. To think that this movie was made around the same time I was growing up and it’s about the life of a millennial kid was another reason I connected to it so deeply. The fact that in my mind I always had an alternate reality where I was raised as a boy is another factor why Boyhood is now very close to my heart. All in all an actual representation of what my childhood could’ve been.
Mason is the youngest kid in his family, preceded by an older sister, Samantha. Mason’s parents are separated and are shown to share a rough relationship at the start. We watch how over the years, Mason’s divorced parents go through their own separate lives but remain bound because of their kids. How every weekend Mason’s dad turns up to pick up his kids and tries his level best to be a good father. I love the effortless acting that Ethan Hawke brought to his role and I can’t think of anyone else who could do it better. To play the biological father that knows he’s done a shabby job of not being there for his children, at the same time being more of a friendly figure to reach out to them, to keep them close, such a heartbreaking thing to do.
Mason’s mom, on the other hand is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing characters in the movie. She is the embodiment of every single mother of this generation. Self-destructive in the way she trapezes through husband after husband and countless divorces. Remarkably strong-willed in raising her kids to the best of her ability. She is so beautiful and her breakdown about her life when Mason’s moving out to go to college sums up all of her existence perfectly.
What can I say about Samantha, the daughter who had to grow up way too soon. The girl who noticed things and went from being so, so annoying and snarky to someone who knew how to keep her head on her shoulders and start acting her age. I’ll honestly never forget the scene right at the start where she’s so small and puny and shaking her hips to Brittney Spears’ then worldwide hit Oops, I Did It Again! It’s hilarious that in the seventh grade I knew a girl who did the exact same routine in school and was applauded by everyone.
Boyhood has moments that are not too generic but will connect with everyone at some point. Even things you never experienced but imagined in your head and therefore became real to you.
In his growing years Mason goes through all the things I’ve watched boys my age go through. Be it the long hair phase or the earrings or even the identity crisis and behaviour of someone who thought they were so beyond stereotypes and latest fads. Mason’s rebellious phase with his new fathers and the lack of a decent role model in his biological father are all subtle additions to Mason’s personality and unlike most movies not the most centric part of his life. There are so many things that I could say about Mason’s character along the years and the changes that take place, but it’s so long. Not because the movie itself is about two hours and forty five minutes long but because each year of his life is displayed in a way that creates an impact on you hard to put into words. Right from the camera settings to background objects, change in surroundings, technological and political developments, latest music trends, mentioning of things as they occurred: 9/11, Bush’s administrations, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince releases, Obama campaigns, all of these play a collective role in showcasing Mason’s life through his boyhood.
The concluding scene of boyhood mentions this simple truth that maybe it’s not us seizing a moment but the other way around. Which made me realize that the last twelve years of my life have been such a massive collection of me being seized by all kinds of moments. This little reality makes you feel humbled, I suppose and more awake, more alive. I feel as though I could do with more awareness of moments that are seizing me than running behind moments to seize.
The tone and pace of this movie seems like an extended version of the Before Trilogy (that I completely adored) by the same director and if you liked those movies, I will recommend Boyhood to you as a must-watch. The only experience of Boyhood that will remain incomplete for me forever is being able to read a review of it by the late Roger Ebert. That, I admit, is my only bone to pick and even then it has nothing to do with the movie itself.