At The Movies: Boyhood (2014)

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Boyhood

★★★★½

2014 • 165 minutes • IFC Productions

Late in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Olivia (Patricia Arquette), watching her son, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), bemusedly packing, suddenly breaks down crying. Concerned (but not concerned enough to go embrace her), Mason coaxes an explanation out of her. Olivia bursts into an incandescent rage:

This is the worst day of my life. I knew this day would come, except why is it happening now? First I get married, have kids, end up with two ex-husbands, go back to school, get my degree, get my masters, send both my kids off to college. What’s next? My own fucking funeral?

Mason, in the half-careless way of teenage boys, manages to scoff-comfort her by pointing out that she’s jumping ahead by at least forty years, but this is almost as close as Boyhood ever gets to a thesis statement. The downright intimidating project (no contracts were ever signed, because contracts cannot last longer than seven years in the United States) not only captures a boy’s development into a man, but does so by actively declining to capture what our culture considers milestones in the lives of children and teenagers. We do not see Mason learn to ride a bike, or his first kiss, or even his first sexual experience. Rather, Linklater is more interested in capturing the often mundane and sometimes banal moments that you actually remember from your childhood, not designated milestones.

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