Sunday, January 11, 2015


Boyhood is Richard Linklater's magnum opus. There's so much I could say about this film, and I already know it's one I'll return to again and again. It wasn't what I expected, but it was more than I expected. Maybe because I'm a parent I found the most compelling character -- and the one I most identified with -- to be the mother played by Patricia Arquette. She's the responsible one. Always present, doing the thankless "grunt work" of raising two kids, mostly on her own, albeit making some calamitous choices along the way. Yet by the end she's the one feeling most unfulfilled, unhappy, even alone. Perhaps there's a cautionary tale here somewhere.

Another fascinating angle one could go into -- which I won't since it would involve getting wonky -- is the portrayal of family values in red-state America. For example Texas -- the terrain of Boyhood and the terrain of the director -- has a strikingly higher divorce and teen pregnancy rate than a blue state like Massachusetts. Fodder for a future post?
One of the many things Boyhood does brilliantly is highlight the seemingly insignificant conversations and chance encounters that end up shaping our lives. Watching it feels like eavesdropping on a series of vignettes reproduced with exacting verisimilitude. "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," a wag once said. As the final scene seems to say: more often than not the major turning points of our lives are a case of "the moment seizing us" rather than the reverse.

Then again, maybe the best review of Boyhood is the one-line assessment offered up by Shannon as we watched it together last night: "watching this makes me want to hug our boys." Indeed.


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