Monday, November 17, 2014

Boyhood (2014)

Director: Richard Linklater
Writer:    Richard Linklater
Cast:       Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater


The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to 18. It was filmed over twelve years with the four main actors working with Richard Linklater to film for a few weeks every year to capture the young man's life though it is as much a story of his mother's life. Mason and his sister Samantha are raised by their mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) who is already separated from their dad (Ethan Hawke) when the story begins. She gets back into college and get a proper job and along the way marries two other people who are prone to be alcoholic over the course of the film. His Dad who starts off as a man chasing his passions ends up as quite a  financially successful career guy with some regret over leading a more prosaic life. 

It is a hard film to describe but is certainly one of the best films I have ever seen and is a cinematic achievement. I don't know if something like this has been ever attempted before. It was not even possible for Linklater to tie the actors to a contract due to the De Havilland law, which makes it illegal in US to contract someone for more than seven years of work. I don't know how well charted out the story outline was when they began, but I suspect Linklater must have improvised as they went on to suit with how the kids were growing up. Mason grows up to be a introvert who is passionate about photography and art. He is also very existentialist and I guess it is Richard Linklater that is talking to us through him. 

There is a point in the film where the transitions in all of their lives comes through clearly. It is Mason's fifteenth birthday and his dad is taking him and Samantha  to visit his wife's parents. As he collects them it is evident that he is now more of a rich family guy who has let go off his passions and Mason's mum is still quite poor, now with her third husband who is ex-marine. The gifts that Mason receives that day from his Dad's family are- a Bible, a suit and a shot gun, all of which are completely at odds with whom he actually is. 

Another great sequence in the film is towards the end when Mason is leaving his mother to go to college. She is now back in a small house without any companions and when Mason refuses to take the first picture of her that he took with him, she breaks down completely. She laments about how her life has just been a series of milestones and the next step is her funeral.'Indian Culture Upholding' assholes can point out how this film is depicting the sad state of Western family system where there is no stable environment for growing kids and how alone the parents would be in their retirement life. Well, then things are not much different in India these days when it comes to the latter point, You can take a look at how rounded individuals these kids are when they are about to hit twenty whereas these careerist fuckwits in India don't really have a clue on how to live a good life (subjective to each individual) till it is too late.

It is funny to see how much Richard Linklater is projecting himself on to Mason's personality. I can safely hazard a guess that he is also a liberal existentialist guy without taking any of of his other films into account. I don't know whether I relate so much to his films just because of our similar outlook to things. I think Republicans won't take the film too kindly. The film ran close to three hours and I didn't want it to end (take note Christopher Nolan) and could have easily seen another three hours of it. I hope they revisit Mason's story again after a few years and he is at a stage where you don't need to film every year. Or as Linklater put it, you can see Boyhood as a prequel to the Before trilogy. 

It is criminal how underrated Richard Linklater is. I think he will certainly be in my top-25 directors of all time list and Boyhood is his master-piece. It now holds a score of 100 in metacritic and 99 on rottentomatoes. 

Rating: 5/5