“You know how everyone’s always saying ‘Seize the moment’? I’m kinda thinking the other way round. You know like the moment seizes us……”
Though the above quoted line does not appear till the film reaches it’s concluding scene, but the observation made in this quote is thoroughly evident throughout its runtime. What is ‘carpe diem’ after all when we are actually slaves to moments!
Director Richard Linklater through his latest directorial, Boyhood (2014) makes us confront this very exclamation in the most beautiful, authentic and unforgettable way. The film spanned over a 12 years timeline, is currently hailed as the most unique motion picture in cinematic history and to let you know something upfront, there’s no exaggeration in that claim. Not only is Boyhood a probable dark horse for the next Oscars, but it can also be cataloged as one of the most influential films ever made.
Here’s a look why..
When Boyhood started to be filmed way back in 2002, it was nothing more than a mere concept in scratch. Neither its end nor its course was defined. And over the next 11 years what the director did became something incomparably phenomenal and unorthodox. The film was shot in 39 days over a period of 12 years with the same cast and with a narrative that recounts the growth of a 6 year old kid’s way in to manhood. Though the film offers nothing remotely extraordinary or ostentatious yet in its deep-rooted simplicity and prolific execution, it becomes a masterpiece. Within two hours, forty five minutes, Linklater familiarizes us with his innovative, eccentric mind space and the unconventional vividness on which this film has been cornerstoned.
Boyhood follows the lives of 6 year old boy, Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) his elder sister Samantha (played by the director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater) and their divorced parents (played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette ). It arrays the physical and psychological growth of the two siblings from their childhood, adolescence to teenage. And this growth is equally literal as it is in narrative as the lead actors also undergo the same change from being kids to being grown ups. Over the 165 minutes of runtime we accompany Mason in his course of ‘growing up’ and in that, we relive our own ‘boyhood’. This film makes us realize how miraculous and complicated growing up really is and how we are so clawed up in the humdrums and velocity of life that we often fail to realize that we actually grew up. There’s no mind-numbing twists or incidents that the film pretend to possess but instead in its natural and unassuming flow that it feels like we are watching our own lives in a panoramic view.
We meet little Mason who doodles on his wall, collects snake vertebras, questions if elves are for real, learns to ride bicycle, loves Harry Potter and video games and almost always fails to show his homework. Then we also meet that Mason who loves photography, who sees things beyond its earthly definition, shuffles between college and a job and has a girlfriend. Though these petite snippets of life, the director beautifully explains the whole unfathomable process of growing up and that the process is not limited to puberty or growing in height and being ecstatic at the first show of a moustache. It is also about emotional growth and growing up as a person. Through the eyes of Mason the film asks us – do you know how you reached here? Did you realize that you have become a grown up? Did you realize your priorities have changed and all that likes and dislikes that you fostered as a kid now makes you wonder if you were a different person all together!
But it is not only a child that grows, but their parents and their surrounding grow simultaneously with them. And this is where Boyhood reflects its first streak of brilliance. It not only touches upon the perks and perils of boyhood but also of motherhood, fatherhood and sisterhood. It takes unannounced time leap from scene to scene but not a single time does the shift appear to be abrupt or forced. It feels like scrolling through a family album where with each throwback photograph, the change and growth in everyone is visible and an underlying nostalgia sets right in.
There is nothing out rightly heroic and remarkable about Mason who grows from a naïve, imaginative kid to an inhibited adolescent and finally an intuitive high school graduate. However the unremitting charm and ingenuousness with which the film progresses is what actually makes it an once-in-a-lifetime experience. The most commendable part of Boyhood is how effortlessly we can relate to the characters and though it is usually upheld that no human life is ever the same, yet everyone watching the film can feel a gist of their life being chipped into the film. It feels like an old country song that hasn’t gathered dust even after all these years and it is special to each person for their own unique reasons.
As a child we all like to believe in fairytales, elves, unicorn just like the protagonist in the film does. But as we grow up our beliefs concern to more important things like religion, politics, career and family but somewhere deep down, we still wonder what would it be like if we knew that magic does happen for real. So when little Mason innocently asks his Dad if elves really exist, his dad confirms that they don’t but also adds that what makes him think that elves are any more magical than whales. Here again, this film proves why there has never been anything quite like it. It takes our basic wonders about the feasibility of fantasy in real life and establishes that everything is as real as we believe it to be.
Complimented by outstanding performances from an unfamiliar cast ensemble, avant-garde cinematography and an exceptionally well-knit screenplay, Boyhood is undeniably the Philosopher’s Stone of contemporary film-making. Every emotion, confusion and crossroad that the film leads us is something we can relate to. It is an emotional journey of countless and priceless moments that define us and make us human.
Boyhood is likely to get overlooked amidst the overwhelming hype encircling Nolan’s “Interstellar”, but make sure you do not fail to catch this soul-stirring directorial that just might change your life…..