Three young boys bike up their street, thinking they are the coolest people in the world, as many little kids do. “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” plays in the background, and their faces have smug little smirks that show you just how much mischief they have been getting into. One boy splits off from the rest of the group, heading home. He walks to his garage. And bam. His mother is lying on the cement floor of the garage, screaming in agony. His drunk stepfather watches from those little stairs that lead into the house.
This movie shows real life. “Boyhood”, directed by Richard Linklater, was filmed over 12 years, using the same cast. Simply put, it is a coming-of-age movie about a boy named Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane. The movie follows Mason at age six, his sister Samantha, played by Lorelei Linklater, director’s daughter, his mom Olivia played by Patricia Arquette, his father Mason Sr. played by Ethan Hawke, and other people who fall into this family’s life until Mason graduates high school.
It is fascinating to watch these characters grow up onscreen. While the movie is scripted, not a documentary, the audience feels as if they are watching two real children grow up. At one point in the movie, I wondered how they got cameras into a classroom in grade school. That’s how real it all seemed.
The start of the movie sets the precedent for the confusing life that Mason will lead. He listens to his mother and his mother’s boyfriend scream at each other from his bedroom. A couple days later, Mason, Samantha and their mom are moving to Houston.
In Houston, Mason and Samantha see their dad for the first time in a year and a half, because he’s been in “Alaska”. He and their mom are divorced, and their dad has scattered weekend visiting rights. He takes them to a bowling alley and feeds them french fries. He tells them that life doesn’t have bumpers and to vote for anyone but Bush in the next election. And then he takes them back to their mom’s house. They’re happy, they’re full of french fries and democratic thoughts, but they still don’t have a dad they can count on.
The years of public school pass quickly. Mason drinks beer and smokes pot. He kisses girls. He picks up a camera and loves it. At home, Mason sees his mother fall for boyfriend after drunk boyfriend.
In this movie, nothing is hidden. Nothing is glossed-over or Disney-fied. That’s what makes this movie so different. The problems that Mason faces are real. Kids who go through these issues-inconsistent parents, abusive surroundings, and poverty-can relate strongly to “Boyhood”.
Mason and Samantha’s life wouldn’t be considered special by any means. Like any life, sometimes its sad, sometimes its happy, and sometimes its so many emotions in between. But the director of this movie made this one life interesting.