Mason and Sam Evans have a typical brother-sister relationship. Regardless of their mother Olivia’s involvement, they cannot seem to avoid their sibling conflict. While the kids are comfortable overall with their lives, they both wish their father was still around. Worried that he will not be able to find them if they move to Houston, Olivia confirms that he will still be welcome and able to get in touch with them. Although Mason Sr. returns from his work in Alaska, he has a rocky reunion with Olivia and only gets to see the kids every once in a while. As the years continue, Olivia struggles through a handful of rocky and tumultuous relationships, while Mason continues to find a way to grow up in spite of the conflict around him.
Review: On concept alone, this film is a masterpiece. Filmed over the course of 12 years, the actors remained consistent from start to finish and represented the real life experience of growing up together. Ellar Coltrane (Mason) was intriguing as a soft-spoken, yet highly observant young boy. While sometimes a bit mischievous, he never seemed to get to the level of Lorelei Linklater’s Samantha. She represented the typical teenage to young adult experience. As for Patricia Arquette (Olivia), her performance stood out at the most realistic through the love for her children, the pain of her relationships, and the drive to essentially be a super mom. Ethan Hawke (Mason Sr.) had a few moments of clarity, but he mostly represented the partially detached father role.
In general, the film basically represented life. There was a partial storyline to follow, but the point seemed to be more about tracking the experiences of growing up for Mason and his family. For Olivia, it was about wanting to be everything she could for his children while making the same mistakes over and over again in love. Sam struggled with the split time between her parents and with the periodic stressors originating from her mom’s relationships. Mason Sr. seemed to mature as Mason got older, but he also appeared to be ignore and failure to support the changes in his son.
Mason was not necessarily a boy of action, but he experienced quite a bit over the course of the 12 years. Witnessing his mother and boyfriend argue before moving to Houston could have had a negative effect on him, but he appeared to just absorb the confusion and pain internally. When Olivia’s second husband became abusive, he seemed to survive and move on from the turmoil. When his father remarried and brought a new family into the mix, Mason seemed to adjust with the exception for the loss of the sports car. Through each of his experiences, he appeared to get closer and closer to independence and maturity.
Ultimately, there are no other films that have achieved what Boyhood has. There may not be a clear story, but hey…that’s life.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5