I really wanted to dislike Boyhood. To me, it had been carried into distinction solely by its gimmick: a film that took twelve years to make, with a consistent cast that ages right before the audience’s eyes.
I was looking for tropes, and I quickly found them – a broken home, a deadbeat dad, and a mother who gets through husbands like, well, Patricia Arquette. But the harder I looked, the more I realised that these things aren’t tropes in the context of Boyhood. They’re just things that occur. Where they would stand out in any other movie, they felt far more organic in Boyhood.
Boyhood appeals primarily to anybody born in the early 1990s. But this isn’t because it’s crammed with pop culture references, or even because it’s an accurate portrayal of growing up – which it is, by the way, but I don’t think that’s what makes it a great film. It’s because the early 1990s kids are finally reaching the start of a new chapter in life – one where Mason is still recognisable, but Ethan Hawke seems a little closer. Almost like we can see our entire lives from above in two hours and forty-five minutes. And the circle of life continues.
The story runs its course, finding a true-to-life balance between being exhilarating and underwhelming. The moments that as movie-watchers, we’re trained to see as plot developments, end up being just another piece of Mason’s childhood. By the end, like Arquette, we’re all left saying: “I just thought there would be more.” But there’s not a shred of disappointment.