• James Rutherford

'Boyhood': A Sprawling Exposition of a Texas Boy's Often Tumultuous 12-Year Maturation


Movie poster for the film Boyhood starring Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette

Boyhood (2014) is an ambitious and sprawling coming-of-age drama starring Ellar Coltrane as Mason Evans Jr., initially portrayed as a six-year-old boy living in small-town Texas with his single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and young sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Shot intermittently over a 12-year period, the film follows Mason's often tumultuous maturation, as he grows up in a fatherless home with only periodic visits from his birth father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) to provide glimpses of cursory guidance.


As the years progress, the storyline finds Olivia in-and-out of various failed relationships, often putting undue stress on Mason Jr. and Samantha's home life. We watch as young Mason progresses from childhood escapism and distractions into teenage years of melancholy—growing interest from girls providing a variety of dramatic interludes. His ultimate departure from Olivia's home to attend college in West Texas becomes the emotional high water mark for a compelling tale of growth and personal evolution.


Conceived, written and directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise), Boyhood is a remarkable cinematic achievement, successfully fabricating the life and times of Mason Jr and his family members over the course of a dozen years. Linklater's storytelling style plays well in his genuine and straightforward manner of delivery, devoid of unnecessary plot machinations or melodrama. It's an honest and authentic depiction of adolescent tribulations and often painful familiar disunity—neither pulling its punches nor pandering to the audience in its expression of truth and sincerity.

 

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