MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By IFC
Directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
The Bible assumes that the family will be the place where values and faith will be passed on from generation to generation. This is a noble goal and, in many situations, achievable, with the grace of God.
No child, however, is solely formed by their family of origin. Life is a series of events, locations, circumstances, opportunities and setbacks. As a child grows into youth and adulthood, their world grows up with them.
Boyhood is a remarkable accomplishment. It depicts the simple story of Mason (Coltrane), and his life from the ages of 6 to 18. He lives with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and his long-suffering mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette). His parents are divorced. His dad, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) stops by from time to time and often fights with his mother. Money is tight and opportunities are always better somewhere else, so the family moves from town to town in Texas.
That’s the basic plot, but this movie was filmed over a 12 year period, with all of the principle actors working for three or four days each year, whenever writer-director Richard Linklater had time between his other films to spend with this project. The period details are spot on, since the past of this movie was the present on the day of filming.
We watch the characters age before our eyes. Boyhood is 2 hours 45 minutes long, but since doing the math works out to less than 15 minutes per year, time moves quickly. And yet, the movie takes care with most of its scripted scenes to give the audience time to observe, showing deep compassion for these characters.
This is a film that will mean different things to individual viewers, since it does not go out of its way to force a simple interpretation. I found myself deeply moved by how Mason’s relationship with his mother and father grew and matured over time and how many the wounds of the past often eventually found a place of healing. I was also impressed with how Mason’s creativity was encouraged and challenged by adults to become his vocation.
Ellar Coltrane is wonderful as Mason, as is Lorelei Linklater (the director’s daughter) as his sister. They have a natural chemistry together and are believable and often funny in their many scenes. And Ethan Hawke does a great job showing us how a deadbeat dad might still redeem himself, given time, while Patricia Arquette gives a wonderful performance as a woman with strong values who just happens to have a knack for hooking up with broken men.
Boyhood is at its best in allowing us to view the world through Mason’s eyes while also seeing it though ours. We all have just one chance to live out our own life and much of it is beyond our control. With love and companionship along the way accompanied by acts of grace, life is still a great adventure.
Four halos: A beautiful meditation on growing up that is simple and haunting.
Three pitchforks: Strong verbal arguments and domestic violence; pervasive casual swearing; underage alcohol and drug use; teenage talk about sex; implied campus sex.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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