The highly anticipated “Boyhood” came out in theaters in July, just in time for our London Rocks group to catch a viewing in West Kensington. A product of twelve consecutive years of filming, the work gives literal meaning to the phrase “coming-of-age”. From the imagination of director Richard Linklater comes a meditation on the mechanisms of the mind as it adapts from boyhood to manhood. The plot shadows the life of a boy named Mason, as he morphs and develops from the exposures and dramas of every coming year. Played by the same actor, Ellar Coltrane, the screening gives the audience a unique, first-hand experience of the transitions of life.
There was an unavoidable theme of absence integrated throughout the film. The absence of a strong father figure in Mason’s youth developed into a multidimensional bitterness that tainted his future relationships to people and things. His biological father felt an absence of self fulfillment and maturity, taking years to come to terms with his failures as a father, a musician and a man. The mother felt an absence of her youth, feeling robbed of time by her early motherhood. She spends the duration of the film discovering chances to grow up herself; challenged by the unstable balance being a single mother and reinventing what’s left of her life. The mother created an absence in her children by exercising poor judgement in men, exposing the children to verbal abuse, alcoholism and aggression.
To further this theme of absence, I felt a strong connection with the absence of romanticism. The beauty in this film is not found in it’s special effects or climactic moments. The beauty was created in its raw, lack of filter. Like so many other typical films in the world, Linklater had no intention of romanticizing the calamities of life. In fact, the point of his film was to urge a new perspective of time. Time is a continuation, a progressor, an inescapable reality. Unavoidable in this film, and in our lives. There were no action-packed explosions or near death experiences. There was no ultimate heroine basked in the glow of flashy lights, serenaded by booming orchestrated movements. There was pain, trauma, birth, rebirth, growth, love, absence, time, all as they exist in the real world: unfiltered, unedited. A study of the rawness of the human condition. Because of the natural fluidity of this film, many people in the theatre found the plot to lack power. But I wholeheartedly disagree.
Linklater understands that you can’t edit the soul.