Boyhood ★★★★★

When I finished watching Boyhood, I was a little unconvinced and unsatisfied. I thought it was a fine film, a very ambitious project and a very interesting one to watch, but I felt that it hadn't really said anything to me. I thought maybe that was the point of the film, which was original in itself, but it still didn't really convince me. After some reflection time, going over some of the dialogues, I went one step further. By apparently not saying anything, this film says everything it has to say. Linklater deliberately doesn't show us any of the milestones that coming of age films normally show us - no first kiss, no first time having sex, no prom. The only milestone that is shown is Mason's high school graduation. For the rest, the film is a collection of those moments in-between the milestones of life, those moments that in all likelihood we will never remember. The immediate reaction I had was to think that it was underwhelming.

But then I thought about the scene where Liv starts crying because she feels that she's gone past all the milestones in her life and that now the only one left is her funeral. I thought about the last scene, with the apparently cheesy line of the moment seizing us. I thought about the scene where Mason asks his dad "what's the point of everything?", to which he replies that he doesn't know. And it got me thinking. Leaving aside the project of epic proportions of shooting a film over the course of twelve years, seeing the characters grow and evolve, I think this is what makes the film great. We are so used to thinking about life as a series of major events that we immediately find it boring when we see moments of everyday life in a film. We are so used to seeing life as a series of milestones that we feel lost, almost depressed, if we think that we don't have any to reach. Like in the Before trilogy, I think this is where Linklater's brilliance lies. Ultimately I think the message is that what we view as the big milestones of life are just a social construct, and that what makes us unique and profound as human beings are the conversations held and the feelings shared in those infinite little unremarkable moments in-between: a day bowling with your dad, a house party with some friends, a road trip with your girlfriend.

Now, can we talk about Ethan Hawke talking about the phenomenal alchemy that The Beatles had when they were together? I don't know much about parenting, but I know that giving your son a copy of The Beatles' Black Album and talking to them about why they were so great is parenting done right.

Edit after a second watch: this film is a masterpiece and it is now officially in my top ten of all time. Knowing how the story would go, I was able to focus in more depth on all the details (the songs on the radio, the clothes worn by the kids, the films they talked about, etc.), and it made me feel very nostalgic. I was born in 1992, so I grew up at the same time as Mason. Only after watching Boyhood a second time did I realise how precious this film will be for my generation in a decade or two. It is the ultimate manifesto of the '90s generation, in the same way that Dazed and Confused was for the '70s generation. I am looking forwards to revisiting this film again in ten years.

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