Film No 4 (2015) : Boyhood

boyhood

With the 87th Academy Award winners ceremony taking place on 22 February 2015, I am on a bit of a mission to try to see as many of the top Oscar hopefuls as possible. I still want ‘The Theory of Everything‘ to Win Everything, (even in the categories for which it hasn’t received a single nomination), but it’s good to see who Eddie is up against.

I bought ‘Boyhood‘ on DVD, the cover of which proclaims that this is ‘the most impressive film ever made‘. Really? The Most Impressive Film Ever Made? That seems like a big pair of boots to fill. When the film starts, young Mason would barely fit a pair of size 10 junior sneakers. By the time the film ends and he is a lanky teen, his Mom probably leaves the shoes and makes him wear the boxes. But ‘Boyhood’ is about growth in far more than shoe sizes. Directed by Richard Linklater and filmed over 12 years, it explores the growing-up years of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from age 6 to 18.

This is not a film you watch for the plot, which is really only a loose framework on which to hang Mason’s childhood and adolescence. The beauty of the movie is in its exploration of what it is to be a child, but also a parent. Whilst I watched, I had to admire the ambitiousness of the project, its remarkable consistency and attention to detail, as well as the commitment it must have inspired in all those involved. That was what I was thinking, with my head. But with my heart, I was feeling about parenthood and childhood. I found this film totally emotionally engaging, touching on how we might think we know our children but, from a very early age, they develop an independence which takes them a little further away from us every day.

Like Mason’s onscreen Mom (Patricia Arquette) I am the mother of an older daughter and younger son, and the scope of ‘Boyhood’ really struck a chord with me. If you are the mother of a teenage daughter, my guess is that you cried at the ‘Slipping Through my Fingers‘ scene on the morning of Sophie’s wedding in ‘Mamma Mia‘. I did. Meryl Streep’s interpretation of losing her daughter to adulthood echoed my own fears exactly. In the same way, of course Mason knows his mother is being over-dramatic when he heads off to college: she is convinced that meaningful life is over now her child-rearing skills are obsolete. But I have a sneaking suspicion that when the pangs of empty nest syndrome strike me, those scenes from the film will come back to haunt me.

I doubt this is The Most Impressive Film Ever Made but it is absolutely, definitely worth seeing. But not if your kids have just left home.

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