Boyhood, a Twelve-Year Journey

Clara Chin, Staff Writer

Twelve years ago, the filming began for a movie that is now expected to win big at the upcoming Oscars.

This movie is Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater), the tale of Mason Evans through his formative years, ages 6 through 18. Boyhood is receiving accolades from movie buffs and recreational movie-goers alike for its unconventional technical choices. In Man of Steel, young Clark Kent is Dylan Sprayberry while adult Clark Kent is played by Henry Cavill. In the Harry Potter Series, Daniel Radcliffe ages as Harry Potter, but over a series of seven films. But in Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane plays both the young and the older protagonist in a single film. Many people credit the movie’s realism to the use of this technique.

“I think Boyhood did a slightly better depiction of teenagers because it followed the kid for his whole life…you could tell what made the character who he was today…so it kind of gave more of the whole picture. I think it’s fresh, new, and it gives this element of intimacy that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Georgina Chiou (11), West High Student and prospective film major.

The film’s authenticity is also due to its believable dialogue and focus on seemingly mundane events. The story could be described more among the lines of a slice of life, not a clear plotline.

“Life is beautiful and interesting enough as it is, and you don’t need to manufacture a lot of falsehood,” said Ethan Hawke in an interview with IFC Films. Hawke plays Mason’s father.

Authenticity may be heartwarming, but it also has its downsides. “It was a little bit directionless, there wasn’t too much momentum,” said Chiou.

Winding plotline aside, Boyhood at least took the opportunity to break cinematic boundaries. The decision to use non-professional child actors for the movie was not the only formula-breaker. Other movies today feature elaborate explosions and extreme, raunchy plots. The themes in Boyhood, however, are quieter.

Patricia Arquette, who plays Mason’s mother, said in an interview with The Telegraph, “This film does not in any way fit into a business model, especially in America…the smaller movies are gone, pretty much. And there is no obvious demographic for this film: who’s going to want to see a movie about some kids growing up? A grandma?…there’s no plot thing that makes it easy to sell.”

Despite not being an easy sell, Boyhood managed to win Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes. It is also nominated for six Oscar Awards. Though the twelve years may have seemed slow for Linklater and his crew, their determination and unique artistic vision seems to be reaping the benefits.