Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Boyhood. See it.

Cousin camp at the beach
We are all about boyhood in our family--between my sister and me, we have six boys. Since our two youngest have been at "cousin camp" at the beach this week, we've enjoyed spending time with our oldest son Chris, who will turn EIGHTEEN in less than a month.

Sunday the three of us went to see the new movie, "Boyhood," exclusively showing at Cinema 21 in Portland. After reading the 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and rave reviews in the Oregonian, New York Times, and Rolling Stone, I had high expectations. Writer/director Richard Linklater created this film by bringing together an ensemble of actors over 12 week each year. He began in October 2002 and ended filming in October 2013, at which time Mason Jr., played by Ellar Coltrane, had grown from age 6 to 18. The film is far more character driven than plot driven, and you'll see little sex, violence, or action elements in it, but at times it's tense and gripping...and at other times sweet and sad. Here's an interview with Linklater and Coltrane talking about the movie.

The acting is exceptional. Patricia Arquette is Mason's mom, and Ethan Hawke is his dad--who in the beginning of the film is estranged. Linklater's daughter Lorelei plays Mason's annoying older sister. At first a few things the mom said (like "let's play the silent game and see who can be silent the longest?") reminded me of myself. But beyond that, we are very different sorts of moms. She had a knack for picking up losers--often alcoholic and physically or verbally abusive--but in the end, she kept her family together.

Ethan Hawke as Mason Sr. acted like a grown child at first, but he grew up in the movie as well as his son...and he actually gave Mason more stability in some ways than his mom did.

Throughout his boyhood, Mason faced the usual pressures that many boys do--struggling at school, being bullied, teased about being gay or girly, pressured to have sex or drink alcohol, finding the joys in first love--and he had additional pressures from being ferried back and forth between parents and adding difficult stepfathers into the mix.

Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane, and Patricia Arquette
I don't think of myself as that sentimental, although when it comes to my kids, I do have a soft spot. But I cannot begin to describe how much this film touched me and wrung me out. I had tears rolling down my cheeks, and just writing about it now makes me choke up again. The momentous impact of watching this movie sitting next to my own nearly-18-year-old son, who went through all the same phases around the years that Mason did (GameBoy, Harry Potter, Yugio, etc.), hit me hard. Where has his childhood gone? He is nearly a man.

The boyhood of Ellar Coltrane
"Boyhood" is, hands down, the best movie I've seen in years. All three of us loved it and cried.

We all agreed that we'd like to see it again, and Mike even said he'd like to buy it. (We NEVER buy movies.)

Our own 12 years of boyhood
I wanted to see "The Fault in Our Stars" this week too, before it leaves theaters, but my soul can't handle another tear jerker so soon. Seriously.

Loved this movie.

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