It’s time to pull out the old b-word. B is for Boyhood, of course, but the b-word I am referring to is brilliant.
This longitudinal, narrative feature is unprecedented. In what must surely have been an experiment (how could have known this would work at all much less work so very well?), writer-director Richard Linklater peeks into the world of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he ages from 5-18 with significant insights about his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), his mom (Patricia Arquette), and his dad (Ethan Hawke).
The movie feels a lot like life, which is a stark reminder of how unusual it is to evoke this in the movies and also something to celebrate because of its importance and because of how difficult it is to achieve verisimilitude in motion pictures.
While Boyhood does not exact the same intensity of emotion I feel when I’m watching any one of the films in Linklater’s trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight), it inspires different types of resonances that are remarkable in their own way.
As the single mother of a 22-year-old former boy, I recognize the stages and transitions explored in the film with nostalgia and a bit of ongoing fear. After all, I know how my own son’s boyhood unfolds having been there but on first viewing do not know the particularities of what will happen to Mason.
And, this is part of the gift of the film. It is both expected and unexpected from moment to moment and filled with the mundane and the extraordinary, which are sometimes one and the same.
There’s another b-word that fits here: bravo.