Sunday, January 25, 2015
Reaction And Analysis Of "Boyhood"
One thing that all good art should do is make you think. Not just about how much you liked it, but how it made you feel, or if comparisons to other works can be brought up, or if made you reminisce about your own life. Sometimes you could not even care for the art itself, but still appreciate it for making you think. Afterall, maybe that was the artist's intention.
This is how I feel about Richard Linklater's newest film "Boyhood." It chronicles the young life of one boy as we watch him grow up from a six-year old to graduating high school and starting a new life in college. We watch as he argues with his sister, sees his mom and dad break up and his mother fall in love with many other men and his friends pressure him into doing things that will change his life.
This is not necessarily a review of "Boyhood." More so, my organized thoughts on the film and what it left me with. As such, if you've seen "Boyhood" I would love to hear what you thought of the film, so please leave a comment below and tell me all about it, or even if you disagree with my thoughts.
So let's start with the obvious point that everyone brings up with this film - that it took over twelve years to make, while still using all the same actors and actresses. For that reason, right off the bat, I respect "Boyhood." To be committed to any sort of project for that long takes true dedication, strength and artistic quality. No other film has done this before, especially with starting off with someone at the age of six and going all the way through his teenage years.
But, that can only take a film so far. Like I said, I respect "Boyhood" but that does not mean that I like it.
I've mentioned this in the past, but when I watch a movie, the key elements that I choose to focus on are the characters and the story. They are the backbone and foundation to any good movie. If they do not hold up or turn out to be terrible people who you do not want to follow, then the film falls apart.
"Boyhood" has very little story and the main character is unlikable. There are story elements, as well as some very realistic dialogue, and events happen, but they happen to the people around our main character, Mason. Throughout the majority of the film, Mason will witness the world change around him, yet he will remain the same - stoic, uninteresting and kinda bored. His mother gets divorced and has to leave the house in a hurry, but Mason just sits there with the same dull look on his face. Until the end of the film, the story of Mason is an uninteresting one.
Mason also has an "I don't care about the world" attitude. He has very short conversations with people, thinks that there is always a conspiracy against him and treats most of the people around him like crap. He only seems to care about his photography. It is hard to give a damn about that sort of character when all he does is complain and does not engage us in any way.
However, to the films' credit, I think this was intentional. There is supposed to be very little story, and Mason is supposed to not be that engaging. Because that is life. There is no ongoing story to our life journey, just events that occur to help shape us into the people that we are. This is especially true for young kids, who just witness life happening around them before deciding to join the world and become their own person. Mason may not know how to handle all the grief and sometimes misery that happens around him and ends up being bored by life.
When I was a teenager, I found myself rarely engaging in conversations with my parents when they would ask "How was your day?" or "Anything interesting happen?" Because I did not feel like explaining myself and reliving things that I may not want to remember. Granted, I quickly moved out of this phase in my life, because I thought it was rude and disrespectful to my parents, but it still occurred and it is a phase that Mason also must go through.
So while Mason may be unlikable and boring, he is quite possibly the most relatable character that I've seen in a long time.
Another interesting aspect is that Mason is growing up at almost the same timeframe that I grew up in - the late 1990s and early 2000s. We watch him go through phases and fads that I saw firsthand, like Britney Spears, Skateboarding and the summer of "The Dark Knight." I found myself repeating, "Oh, I remember when that happened! That was a cool time!"
Which makes the events that happen in Mason's life that much more relatable. We see both good and bad things happen to Mason, like going to a baseball game with his father and sister, but also witness family quarrels. This made me think, "Boy, I remember when that happened. That sucked."
Not only is Mason an unbelievably relatable character, but the timeframe and story events are also relatable, especially for me. Because that is just how life works - you have to take the good with the bad, and learn from all that. Do what you want with your life, and make sure you don't repeat the mistakes that you've seen.
For this reason, "Boyhood" is the ultimate coming-of-age story. Not just because a boy learns to become a man, but because we literally see him turn into a man. This is the same boy throughout, as we watch him see a dead bird to deciding that he wants to become a professional photographer.
While I do think the story of Mason's mother and father is a far more compelling and captivating story, as she tries to juggle school, relationships and being a mother, and the father learning that he needs to grow up and move on in life, there is something awe-inspiring about Mason's story. To see something like this be attempted through scope and sheer determination is amazing.
"Boyhood" also reminds me of films like "Gravity" and "2001: A Space Odyssey." All three films are not necessarily about the story, but about the experience. These films put you in a state of mind where you don't necessarily care about what happens but you are entranced by the atmosphere, visuals and remembering your own life experiences. You don't even remember what happened in the film, but you know that you had a great time.
So, did I enjoy "Boyhood"? Yeah, but I respect it more than I enjoy it. To do what Richard Linklater did and succeed is nothing sort of miracle and a masterpiece. From a story and character aspect, there is not much to go on. But when it comes to relating all of it to life and the experience of being a child, this film could not be closer to the truth.
Again, if you've seen "Boyhood" please tell me what you thought of it, because I'm curious to hear what you guys have to say. Do you agree with my thoughts or think that I'm way off? Let me know in the comments below.