Popcorn Preview: Boyhood

Boyhood (2014)
Cast includes: Patricia Arquette (Medium), Ethan Hawke (Training Day), Ellar Coltrane (Fast Food Nation), Lorelei Linklater (Waking Life)
Writer/Director: Richard Linklater (Before Midnight, Dazed and Confused)
Genre: Drama (165 minutes)

There are hints of passive rebellion right from the beginning. The school meeting goes well, but Mom can't understand why Mason isn't turning in his homework assignments. She knows he's done them. "She didn't ask for them," says Mason. Mason is 7 and his sister Samantha is a year older. Dad... Mason Sr., is up in Alaska, AKA, divorced from Mom. Mom would like to meet someone else, but this latest guy probably isn't the one. "Stop using your kids as an excuse," he screams. How did things turn out this way? "First I was a daughter and now I'm somebody's fucking mother." Mom needs to get her act together. "We're moving to Houston," she tells the kids. "No Mother, We're not moving!" Samantha exclaims. "What if Dad can't find us?" Young Sam has always been a force of nature. However, Mom wins this round and Sam voices her displeasure by saying goodbye to every little thing... "Goodbye house. Goodbye yard. Goodbye trees..." "Samantha. Why don't you say goodbye to that little horse shit attitude of yours!"

Dad does find them in Houston. In fact, he moves back to Texas so he can be with them on weekends. Mason and Sam hope Mom and Dad will get back together, but from what they see from the upstairs window, it doesn't look like they're making up. "You know your mom is a piece of work. I think you know that," Dad says... probably not the right things to say to the kids. Anyway, Mom's going back to school part-time. When she finishes her degree, she can get a better job. Mason meets Mom at one of her classes, where Mom introduces him to her professor, Bill. Bill seems quite taken with Mom... and to no one's surprise, their little coffee date eventually turns into wedding bells. "Dad, there's no magic in the world, is there?" What on earth would prompt Mason to ask a question like this? It's hard being an every-other-weekend dad. Meanwhile, their new "dad," Bill is becoming a more forceful presence in their lives. Hiding liquor from Mom isn't a good sign, but he knows the kids won't tell... or more accurately, will be afraid to tell.

By this time, we've noticed that Mason and the rest of the cast are aging in real time. The film was shot over a period of 12 years. Mason is 7 in the beginning and 19 by the end. Of course, everyone else ages, too... even the backdrop ages... with regular references to current events and issues. Boyhood is a unique filmmaking accomplishment. Film connoisseurs will appreciate a whole range of technical achievements that writer/director Richard Linklater had to pull off in order to make this project work. But it's more than just an exercise in technical logistics. It has a lovely story with many wonderful moments. Linklater wanted to show how the threads of character development start from an early age and are woven through everything as we come of age. There are so many moments that ring true and spark personal memories. While Mason is the central character, the film is about the whole family. "What do you want to be, Mason? What do you want to do?" a teacher asks. Mason will never stop searching... in his own passive rebellious way.

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
A boy's journey into manhood... an ordinary family's 12-year journey

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Art House
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Growing up
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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