Shrewsbury, Massachusetts- Once in a while, there is that film that leaves you at a loss for words. You walk into the theatre already trying to form your opinion, but by the time the lights come back up, the rug’s been pulled out from under you. It plagues you as you drive home, eating dinner, going to bed. What was that? Did I love it? Did I hate it? What does it all mean? Someday, probably years later and after many rewatches, it will all start to click, but the first time experiencing something like that doesn’t come often anymore and it might be a while before that happens again.
Boyhood is a great movie. Every critic out there is singing its praises and for good reason. It’s an astounding achievement unlike anything to hit cinemas in a long time and the perfect pinnacle for director Richard Linklater. Following the maturation of a young kid in Texas is an unprecedented task and he knocked it out of the park with a tremendous cast and endlessly relatable story.
However, I’m kind of breaking traditional format here with this one. The film’s great and you should see it, but every critic’s saying it and for reasons why you can go to them. I on the other hand wish to review what this film means now that it’s out there because it’s a remarkable film that totally captures the spirit of my “Millennial” (which I hate using, but there isn’t a better phrase) generation. It’s a film that every Millennial should see, but that every one is going to like right away.
This recent generation of kids has gotten a lot of flak from adults and the media that they mostly control. “Oh these kids and their cell phones and video games…” and what have you isn’t an unsurprising thing I hear from people older than me. Mason faces a lot of that throughout Boyhood as his parents, teachers, and bosses constantly pick on him for. Even when he finally chooses what he wants to do, photography, people still goad him for trying to find his way.
That generational divide lies close to the core of Boyhood’s struggle: trying to find purpose in a world that is constantly trying to boss you into something else. Millennials get that constant stereotype that “there’s no work ethic” or that we “have our heads in the clouds.” That your dreams won’t work out and life is going to give you a swift kick in the pants. It makes sense that the people who say that say it because they went through the same thing.
Mason’s parents, played wonderfully by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are constantly trying to push their son and protect their son, which can get on Mason’s nerves. For once, I was on their side a little bit because you can tell that they’re like that because they don’t want their children to repeat the same mistakes they did. It gave me a fonder appreciation of my own parents and that realization is one of the main reasons why this film is important.
Most critics (at least the known ones anyway) that are kneeling before this piece of work are older than the subject and therefore have a little more perspective than the Millennials that are going to walk in and see it. Those generations have Clerks, they have American Graffitti, they have Dazed and Confused to mark what growing up for them was like. What I fear that a lot of teens walking into the theater will think it’s boring or dumb because “it’s like my own life,” but that’s understandable. With time, the generation that this film is speaking too will get it and see it for the achievement it is. Finally someone has created an honest, hard-hitting portrayal of growing up in the 2000’s was like and we finally have a movie marker of our own.
Boyhood is amazing for many other reasons. The soundtrack is solid set of tracks of 2000’s music culture and the story is accessible from many angles. However for me the most hard-hitting part of it was what it means for my generation. Sure, I didn’t grow up in a household dealing with divorce in Texas, but I know what it’s like to grow up in a generation that is constantly scrutinized. So when I see Boyhood, I don’t see a movie: I see a time capsule that everyone should find the time to open up and look inside.
Boyhood is playing at Worcester Showcase North and many other great local theaters.