Film: Boyhood

The Yukon Film Society is very excited to present a film that is currently at the top of many “Best Films of 2014” lists, as well as the award season buzz (5 Golden Globe nominations): Boyhood, by Austin-based filmmaker Richard Linklater, plays on Sunday January 11, at the Yukon Arts Centre. 

Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, Boyhood is a filmic attempt to mimic the unpredictability of maturation and life in general. It was filmed over 12 years with entirely the same cast. 

In two-and-a-half hours we watch Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grow from a little boy into a young adult, while the supporting actors age with him. The expansive timeframe in which the piece was created allows writer/director Linklater to capture the intricacies of human personality. Through the lives of the characters, we come to recognize human beings as complex microcosms in constant metamorphosis. Parents continue to grow and change as their children do; it’s all an interconnected work in progress. 

If you’re looking for special effects or utopian escapism, look elsewhere. This film insists we re-examine and appreciate the magic of real life. Surprise and mind-blowing beauty are all around you; it’s all about perspective. 

This philosophy is exemplified nicely via dialogue between Mason and his father (Ethan Hawke). 

When Mason asks, “Dad…. there’s no like, real magic in the world, right (. . .) like elves and stuff?”

His dad responds, “Well I dunno. I mean, what makes you think that elves are more magical than somethin’ like a whale (. . .) what if I told you a story about how underneath the ocean there was this giant sea mammal that used sonar and sang songs, and was so big that its heart was the size of a car and you could crawl through the arteries. I bet you’d think that was pretty magical right?”

This beauty and wonder, however, are always punctuated with barriers and annoyances. The film features a series of awkwardly realistic vignettes that mirror the oscillation between mediocrity and intensity that haphazardly fashions our lives. Life’s inevitable lulls and climaxes act upon Mason in a realistic manner rarely seen in the movies, reminding us that there’s no clear, straight path to the end.

Growing up isn’t about buying a car, or getting married. It’s about the development of one’s mind and character. Although Mason’s parents certainly shape his life in many ways, it’s upon realizing that his parents don’t have all the answers that he establishes an independent view on life — thus moving beyond boyhood.

The film’s realistically painted portrait of human life includes recognizable experiences like bowling with dad, embarrassing haircuts, and difficult relationships: a myriad of important and unimportant occurrences.

Don’t try too hard to cease the moment, but instead allow the moment to seize you. Just go with it, and do the most you can with what you’re given. Life is messy and increasingly complicated. Don’t expect a perfect ending, because you probably won’t get it. It’s really all about the multifaceted ride.

Boyhood plays at the Yukon Arts Centre at 8 p.m. on January 11. Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for members, and $6 for boys (and girls). 

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