“Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”
Fairly recently, I concluded my K-12 educational career. My senior year had been quite the impactful experience to say the least, sprinkled with memories that still endure with me and will probably continue to do so for a long time. Whether it was that state championship-winning performance with my marching band, finalizing my College plans, taking center-stage on the dance floor on prom night (albeit dancing poorly), or to have the privilege of delivering a speech for my graduating class, it blows my mind to even think that all of these experiences have already occurred.
When me and my two fellow class speakers stood up on stage during graduation night, I quickly reflected over the past 12 years – from the days of sitting criss-cross applesauce listening to my Kindergarten teacher read Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, to now representing the Class of 2014, the mere feeling of all that time now gone had overwhelmed me. Now that I am nearing the end of Summer and the start of College looming closer, I remember my past expectations before I entered Intermediate school, expecting the next six years to be something much bigger than it actually turned out to be.
Now if I were to go to the 11 year-old Noah and tell him what was in store, he would seem pretty disappointed that he would not be getting the definitive Intermediate-to-High School experience that he expected from watching too many TV shows. But once 11 year-old Noah actually experienced the next six years and finally reflects back, he realizes that even though it was different than expected, the actual experience was more gratifying than what he could have imagined.
And by some miracle, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood happened to release during the most fitting time that I not only as a film-lover, but an individual needed to see it. Similar to what my 11 year-old self expected for his adolescent life, I was given a film that turned out to be surprisingly different than what I expected. I went in hoping for this epic, sweeping coming-of-age drama that would leave me in shambles once the credits started to roll. Instead, I was given a film much smaller in scale, and yet, a euphoric cinematic experience that is unprecedented in the history of American cinema.
As awe-inspiring as it is to know of how this film took 12 years to make and to see our characters grow up right before our very eyes, Boyhood manages to go beyond that technical feat and allows the audience to see through the window of the lives of Mason and his family. Through every scene that progresses in different points of time, Linklater beautifully paints a portrait of life that explores why through all the numerous milestones in our lives, they leave such an impact on us. How really, we don’t really “seize the moment”, but rather “the moment seizes us.”
Clocking in at about 165 minutes, Boyhood justifies that runtime thanks to Linklater’s unprecedented direction, realistic and intimate performances by Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, and Lorelei Linklater, and the wondrously profound messages about the moments we cherish in life. And fittingly enough, the brisk pacing mirrors the feelings we endure when we realize that life does indeed move pretty fast. As someone who is just getting ready for the next chapter in his life, I can say without hesitation that Linklater has given us not only one of the best films in recent years, but a true cinematic landmark that is destined to stand the test of time. It is a film that everyone needs to see. A film that anyone and ESPECIALLY recent High School graduates can relate to. And for those reasons and more, Boyhood is just a masterpiece.