Twelve years in the making, Richard Linklater's innovative yet simple passion project Boyhood kicks off the 2014 BAMcinemaFest, Brooklyn's annual celebration of indie film. We've got your best bets for films to look out for across the festival.
The One You Can't Miss
Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a film made by and for people who place a great deal of emotional importance on what it’s like to grow up as a boy in America. It’s right there in the title, after all. But I don’t think Linklater shies away from the fact that by following this one particular boy — white, working-class, child-of-divorce Mason (Ellar Coltrane) — he’s unavoidably limiting his scope. But in his specific and tightly focused way, Linklater sticks with the boy and lingers long enough for some very human truths to sneak out.
The ostensible hook here is that Linklater filmed the story, with the same actors, over a period of twelve years. Mason progresses from ages six to eighteen, grows up, experiences family turmoil, discovers interests and passions, discovers love, loses love, develops insufferable teenage opinions about music and the nature of modern lives. All the typical things, really. On his path, he's guided by any number of forces, most prominently his mother (Patricia Arquette) and father (Ethan Hawke), who we watch age across those dozen years with at least as much interest as we have in Mason. Arquette in particular offers quite a few layers, both as a mother figuring out her life with two school-aged kids but also as an actress aging before our eyes. Hawke does too, of course, maybe even more dramatically than Arquette does, but there's no denying that it feels more audacious to watch an actress visibly age over the course of a film when it feels like Hollywood doesn't allow them to age over the course of a career (at least not without repercussions).
Linklater smartly avoids making Arquette and Hawke's characters too much of a yin and yang, pulling Mason in opposite directions. Yes, Hawke starts out as the heedless "cool" alternate-weekends dad while Arquette is the every-day-headaches mom, but things progress. He gets more responsible. She goes through some incredibly hard times with a second husband. They both get more "settled," in the modern sense of the world, but there's a sadness lurking in the both of them, the kind that naturally comes when the series of paths you choose throughout your life mean there are endless paths that you haven't.