Director: Richard Linklater
The commitment to the project by its principles was Herculean. Beginning in 2002, the end must have felt distant and imaginary until the later years. Similar only to the Harry Potter films (a comparison acknowledged in the film itself) in its commitment to its cast's physical development, the crew assembled for a few weeks each year and shot what was essentially a series of short films. And in each moment the normality is so familiar that we all, regardless of gender or background, recognise ourselves in Mason. His younger years are dominated by his family; games with his siblings distract from the altercations between the adults, but as he grows up he realises, as we all did, that adults are not omniscient powerful beings, but just grown-up kids themselves. He and his sister mature into young adults seemingly with the age-old adage of "we won't make the same mistakes as our parents", while their parents have matured along with them.
Like our own memories, Boyhood focuses more on the later years, but unfortunately this is its one and only problem. Sitting at 2 hours 45, the film feels at times like you're watching it in real time. Boyhood could easily have been a two hour film and it drags somewhat as a result. However, each scene and delightful moment are like perfect self-contained snapshots of growing up. At times, there is clear and monumental plot - especially as his mother deals with and leaves an abusive husband - but at others it just ambles through, and sometimes skips, big milestones of his life. His mother says toward the end of the film, "Milestones are just passing me by. There's been so many that the next will be my funeral!"
Just as Linklater has surprised us in the past with his continuation of the Before Sunrise series, I can't help but wonder whether Collrane will be making these short films every year for the rest of his life. Will there be an "Adulthood" movie in fifteen years time? And a "Middle Age" in thirty? In the space of under three hours, Mason has become a character I feel I've known his whole life and I hope we see more from him, but with a scene late in the film in which Mason and his girlfriend wander around Austen through the night until sunrise, I couldn't help but feel that this is a project that plugs the gap pre-Before Sunrise. Linklater's three films about life-long romance (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight - and presumably there will be more) chart the lives and loves of two star-crossed lovers... Could a Boyhood continuation add more to Linklater's cannon than that? I expect not. Saying that though, somehow Linklater constantly surprises us with our own fascination for something little more than normality, so whatever he next has in store for us, I will make sure I'm there to witness it.