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Growing up again with Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’

By Britton Perelman, Staff Writer

(4/5 stars)

One of the most unique things about movies lies in their ability to not only reach an audience of millions of people, but to also somehow connect with those millions of individuals in a very personal way. We're drawn to specific movies because we see bits of ourselves in the characters, in the emotions portrayed, in the stories themselves.

In 2002, writer and director Richard Linklater created a story about a young boy named Mason and his family. He assembled a small cast and, almost secretly, filmed what became known as "Boyhood" during the summer for the next twelve years. The movie he made is the most authentic depiction of the process of growing up I've ever seen.

Watching "Boyhood" was like seeing a movie about my own childhood. I got to dress up in robes and fake glasses and go to midnight release parties for the Harry Potter books with Mason and his siblings. We played the electronic 20 Questions game at the dinner table and marveled at how it always got the answer right. We chewed grossly colored Hubba Bubba gum and blew bubbles the size of our adolescent heads. On long car rides, we actually played the silent game when our parents suggested it and the "Crank That Soulja Boy" song was the unfortunate anthem of our middle school years. We actually grew up together.

But the beauty of "Boyhood" is that you didn't have to grow up in the early 2000s to relate to it. You didn't need to live in Texas or have an absent father and a mother that likes men who drink too much. You didn't even have to be a boy. When it comes to growing up, everyone experiences the same struggle of trying to understand the world, how we fit into it, and who we want to be. The emotions present in the movie are so universal that anyone, of any age, sitting in the audience can find something in Mason's story that connects to their own life.

The decision to use to the same actors for twelve years was sheer brilliance in my opinion. Was the acting great? No, but it didn't matter. Over the course of two hours and forty-five minutes we watched the entire cast transform. Yes, actors grow up on TV shows and in movie series all the time, but not in this way. The only way I can accurately describe it is to say that it epitomizes the feeling you get when you look around and suddenly realize that everything has changed and you don't really know where the time went. Because isn't that how we all feel about growing up anyway?

There's a scene near the end when Mason and one of his friends are talking about the phrase "seize the moment." They suggest that everyone has it wrong because, usually, it's the opposite and the moment is actually seizing you. I think that's what Linklater really wanted us all to get out of this movie - the idea that the defining moments in our lives are the ones that seize us, not the other way around.

At its core, "Boyhood" is a story about growing up. There wasn't really a plot, no crazy car chases or horrible accidents, yet it was stunningly real. It was a collection of moments, good and bad, moments of pure elation and intense sadness, of rib-busting laughter and contemplative silence, moments full of actual emotion. "Boyhood" serves as a reminder that the small moments of our lives make us who we are and that, even though our lives may seem mundane at times, there is something special to be found when it's the moments that seize us.

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