Boyhood ★★★★★

After finishing Boyhood and slowly gathering my thoughts on it I did what I usually do, fly over to Letterboxd to jot those thoughts down before they escape me. What I wasn't prepared for was what happened when I saw that poster. It was a slap in the face, a jarring reminder that I had just spent twelve years with someone.

I think it's easy to not look beyond this film's ambitious conception and even write it off as a non-eventful gimmick. There is no real plot, there are no grand character arcs, no dramatic tension. It lacks a narrative flow and has more scope than focus, it ambles on throughout its running time, meandering along the trivial and occasionally touching upon more serious matters, if only to skip on to the next minor life event most of us have experienced one way or another. If you'd regard these things as criticisms, you'd be right, Boyhood was probably not for you.

It was for me though. Ever so much.

Linklater's stunning film blurs the lines of art and life completely. In doing so, he brilliantly chooses an approach lacking of any pretense, opting for emulation instead of manipulation. I am convinced that many viewers, myself included, have this preconceived notion of how a dramatic film should play out and how it should be acted. Linklater wipes that preconception off the table with a project that is truer than anything I've ever seen. The acting is understated throughout which only adds to the realization of the ambition of the project. There are no frills, just life. Plain, ordinary life. And I did not expect it to pack such a punch.

As a parent, witnessing a child's shaping of a past for an unknown future was a truly gripping experience. I felt constantly involved. It reminded me both of my youth and of my struggles and fears as a parent. Life isn't about the big moments alone, it's predominantly about the small moments, the fleeting moments that you'd want to hold on to forever in retrospect or regret experiencing or causing. Young Mason not knowing where he belongs, the constant look of regret in Ethan Hawke's eyes when he sees every missed opportunity looking at his kids, Patricia Arquette's relatable but ever so painful final monologue, that kiss, that camping trip, the Black Album, the shared fear for the drunk parent, that first beer, getting advice from your old man about your love life and leaving your parents behind to build a life of your own; Boyhood treats all those moments with a disarming tenderness, truthfulness and with the greatest of respect.

This unique singularity in the world of cinema made me miss my dad, who died when I was six, ever so much, made me check on my kids to watch them sleep for a while and steered me towards some old photo albums. And looking at a younger me, playing my own version of Boyhood in my head, I fully felt the extent of Mason's last line in the film.

The moment is always right now.

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