Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

12 years growing...

You wouldn't think that you could be rivetted for almost three hours (165 minutes) by a movie about one boy growing up over 12 years of his life. Then you haven't witnessed the life of Mason, between six and 18. This is Boyhood, directed and filmed over 12 years, the same actors, growing into their characters and themselves, in a completely fictitious story with only the verities of place - Texas - time (2002 to 2013) and events - such as Obama's election - to anchor it.

Richard Linklater conceptualised, wrote and directed Boyhood, thinking his way forward from childhood to a young man entering college. It is the life of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) who is six years old in 2002 when we first meet him. His sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, Richard's precocious daughter) may be eight going on 18: with a mouth on her! Mason's mother Olivia is played by Patricia Arquette, still young and wanting a life for herself, the life she may have been denied by early motherhood. We learn from the children's father Mason (Ethan Hawke) that she was 20-something when Mason is born. Mason Sr has not been in his children's lives for some time when he first turns up to take them for a weekend.

We learn that the cast and crew came together for a few days each year to film that year's sequence. But we are never sure of where the story might be going. We become keenly aware of the minutiae of growing up - taller, more muscled, long hair, short hair, personality traits - and these become important and interesting observations. As we learn more about Mason Sr, we realise that there's common sense in even the irresponsible husband; as there may be a wayward streak in the most sensible mothers. Why does a smart parent, a diligent teacher always seem to choose a mate unwisely?

First love, broken heart, leaving home, accepting his parents as people, loving life: in the end Mason is anchored, a loving son with good role models for mother, father, sibling.

When the project was started, Linklater had Hawke agree to continue and complete the 12 year journey if anything happened to him. As it turned out, the ensemble remained intact for the duration; filming for one week each year.

Patricia Arquette won the Academy award for Best Supporting Actress. Here she is when Mason is ready to leave home and go to college - after she had announced her intention to downsize the home. It is the only moment when she gives in to her emotions, and weeps.
Mom: You know what I'm realising? My life is just going to go. Like that. This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. Getting divorced... again. Getting my masters degree. Finally getting the job I wanted. Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what's next? Huh? It's my fucking funeral! Just go, and leave my picture!
Mason: Aren't you jumping ahead by, like, 40 years or something?
Mom: I just thought there would be more.

Ethan Hawke also won the Academy award for Best Supporting Male Actor. Far from irresponsible, he is the role model and foil for his son.
Mason: Dad, there's no real magic in the world, right?
Dad: What do you mean?
Mason: You know, like elves and stuff. People just made that up.
Dad: Oh, I don't know. I mean, what makes you think that elves are any more magical than something like a whale? Yoy know what I mean? What if I told you a story about how underneath the ocean, there was this giant sea mammal that used sonar and sang songs and it was so big that its heart was the size of a car and you could crawl through the arteries? I mean, you'd think that was pretty magical, right?

The punchline, however, must surely belong to the girl Mason meets in college.
Nicole: You know how everyone's always saying seize the moment? I don't know, I'm kind of thinking it's the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us

Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland received the Academy award for Best Motion Picture of the Year. Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) and Barack Obama both said Boyhood was their favourite film of the year.