For twelve years director Richard Linklater, focuses on the life and development of “Mason” (age 6-18) and his family; what is remarkable about “Boyhood” is the extraordinary “ordinariness” of the characters whose lives we voyeuristically watch evolve. The ebb and flow of the film is so natural, so lackadaisical, insouciantly oozing into years, we are hardly aware of the transitions; levels of life experienced, recognized, ubiquitously shared by all.
Ethan Hawke as “Mason, Sr.” is accustomed to depicting the same character in life’s process (“Before Sunrise” “Before Sunset”, “Before Midnight”); fatherhood visited him too soon; over twelve years his devotion to his children never wanes; he is a stable factor in their development. Patricia Arquette, as single-parent “Olivia”, has the largest hurdles to vanquish; raising Mason and “Samantha” (Lorelei Linklater), struggling to attain a college degree, and failing miserably in father substitutes. Hawke’s and Arquette’s performances are masterful examples of talent soaring with age.
Lorelei Linklater, Samantha, (Richard’s daughter) is rich in charting the whims of an older sister, lovingly tormenting her younger brother, navigating the angst of adolescence and its myriad of choices; growing up under the intrusive lens of a camera, must have caused her some fretful moments.
Ellar Coltrane barely remembers the copious interviews that won him the role of Mason; the partnership between director and neophyte actor is a key factor in the ingenious success of the film; Linklater’s prescience in allowing Mason/Ellar the freedom to grow, develop, finding a perfect balance between the person and the role, rarely has patience been served so well.
It is the accessibility of the narrative; the universality of the theme: parental pain when acknowledging that the umbilical cord is irrevocably cauterized; children accepting accountability for their decisions; harmonic honesty imbues “Boyhood” with greatness. An astonishing example of creativity transcending its benign characters; leaping from the realm of the mundane into the hearts of all who see slivers of themselves, painted plainly, and profoundly, proactively realistic.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!