By Emma Coyne (Hertfordshire, England)


“I could watch this for another 3 hours” I whispered to my friend when the credits appeared after 2 hours 45 minutes of a sincere, realistic and undeniably beautiful feature. Boyhood follows newcomer Ellar Coltrane for 12 years from age 6-18, by the end you’ll want to visit protagonist Mason at University to see how he’s getting along, just be careful to knock before walking in on him and an unexpected visitor. Richard Linklater, who also directed the mesmerizing Before… trilogy takes the audience on a journey you are unlikely to forget.

We watch Mason flick through a lingerie magazine, bicker with his sister (played by Linklater’s daughter), go through as many schools as he does hair styles, kiss his first girlfriend and later begin to question what it all means. Beginning with shots of Mason, his Mum and Sister simply living their lives, it was just a few short scenes in that I knew I would not be leaving the theater seat for anything. For someone who watches more films than would be considered healthy, this is a rare occurrence. In fact this has only happened once before this year whilst watching Starred Up; realism is for me what action adventure is for most straight men: a gripping, roller-coaster of an experience, made all the better by a good sex scene.

Sat next to a friend who was as content as I was that this was our fourth film since she had arrived for a visit, the day before, picking at overpriced cola bottles and sipping flat, ice-cold Pepsi I say with all sincerity that this was not like any other ‘Cheap Tuesday’s’ night at the Cinema, this was special.

Growing up through divorce, single mum’s, asshole step-dad’s/boyfriends, moving around a lot and dealing with having very little income, my friend and I agreed without question that we had never related more to a film. Though, I think people who haven’t been through the things just mentioned would share this opinion. There is simply too much going on throughout the film, too many issues, too many experiences, too many questions to leave any audience member, regardless of race, age or gender unable to relate.

Patricia Arquette (True Romance) portrays brilliantly an over-stressed, over-worked Mum who’s struggling with her load, whilst Ethan Hawke (Before… trilogy) superbly plays a song writing, cigarette smoking Dad who’s still trying to figure out how to be a father, with presents, days out and a sincere heart at hand. What is rare is the portrayal of Hawke’s character. Too often post divorcee Dads are depicted as good-for-nothing lowlifes who turn up when it suits them and bail when any real advice or money is in need.

However keeping in line with the realism of the film Linklater creates a Father who hasn’t got it all figured out, who makes mistakes and isn’t perfect but a Father who concerns himself with not engaging with small talk with his kids, but truly getting to know them, which they decide after consideration to attempt at a more natural pace, a father who cares and who strives to be better.

What is remarkable, albeit unsurprising being a Linklater film, is how in touch you feel with each of the characters. From central roles such as the mother, whom we bond with throughout, to Hawke’s new girlfriend’s in-laws, where the direction and writing of the film is exemplified through a connection made in just a few minutes. Feeling not only concerned for each character but as though you have lived their ups and downs alongside them is a skill only true humanitarians exhibit, shown throughout the collection of his films, this is a director who gives human experience a platform.

A major event-less film with more events than the new Avengers. A film that gives awkward adolescence a voice without marginalizing it. A film that answers life’s questions by not answering a single one of them. Boyhood is not a just a film, it is a journey and an experience and one that is not to be missed.

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