The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

How Boyhood got me despite the worst of circumstances

with 17 comments

I had been looking forward to see Boyhood for months, but when I finally got the chance I regretted it.

The circumstances! The circumstances! Could they be any worse?

I didn’t know if there even was a point to go through with it. It felt like a waste. I knew that I was bound to zone out or even fall asleep. I was at a Swedish film event, Malmö filmdagar, which mainly is directed at people in Sweden who work with film professionally, such as distributors and journalists. Fortunately they have also invited a few movie bloggers, and I was one of them.

We spent three days watching movies from the upcoming autumn season all day long. For professional film critics who attend film festivals on a regular places and go to press screenings to keep up, there’s nothing extraordinary about this. But for an amateur like me, it was exhausting especially with sometimes as little as five minute breaks between the screenings.

Boyhood came up as number five during the most movie intense day. I had been struggling at a previous screening not to fall asleep as I followed the chase of a serial killer of the worst kind. If not even murdering could keep me awake, how could I possibly get through an almost three hour long movie about the everyday life of some ordinary people during twelve years? I knew I wanted to see it, but would my body and brain comply with the wishes of my heart?

Of course I was a fool. If you’ve seen it you probably know why.

There was no way that I would fall asleep as I watched the boy Mason growing up right before my eyes. I was hooked right from the start and I didn’t lose attention for a second. I didn’t check the watch once. My only awareness of time passing was based on the seamless aging of everyone. Every time I noticed that another year must have passed I sighed inside, because I knew that it meant that we were not a little closer to the end and I didn’t want it to end, ever. And when it finished, my immediate impulse was to watch it again. If I had been offered to opportunity to a rewatch right after my first, I would have jumped at it.

I’m not sure what exactly it is that makes Boyhood so captivating. Things happen in the life of the boy, his sister and his divorced parents, but it rarely gets particularly dramatic. Sometimes you date the wrong person. Sometimes you move. Sometimes you’re having an important conversation with someone who is close to you. Sometimes you’re having an argument. Life goes by. You grow older. You get insights, regardless if you’re a boy or a mum. It’s the way things are.

I’ve deliberately avoided reviews about Boyhood, but I haven’t completely been able to shut them out. One thing that I picked up was that women are supposed not to relate as strongly to the film as men. I just want to make clear that I disagree with this, completely.

Firstly, I can easily identify with characters of the opposite gender. I’ve been doing it all of my life (since sadly women are underrepresented in movies). It’s nothing I think of; I’m absolutely used to it. Secondly, despite the title “Boyhood”, this is just a part of what the film is about. While she probably hasn’t as much screentime as Mason, the story of his mother, brilliantly played by Patricia Arquette, is so engaging that a part of me wanted to rename it “motherhood”.

Parental feelings
And now that we’re at the topic of being a mother, I suspect that I’m not the only one in the audience to develop parental feelings for Mason. Until this point in my life, I’ve only had daughters, but now all of a sudden I have a son. And that was of course one of the reasons why it was so unreasonably hard to let go of it. I want to know what happens next in the life of those people!

Couldn’t we get one little follow-up every year, a 20-minute update with a few relevant excerpts from whatever they’re up to now?

What did you say?

Oh, right. Yeah. They actors aren’t for real. I keep forgetting.

I think I’d better stop here. I don’t want to be that babbling person who goes on and on and on about something until the point when you want to punch him in the face and take the opposite position because she’s becoming so annoying.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone to see Boyhood as the fifth movie of the day. But on the other hand, if you have to, don’t worry. If a movie is good enough, it will attach itself to you no matter what.

Boyhood (Richard Linklater, US 2014) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

September 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Posted in Boyhood

17 Responses

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  1. So it was all right, was it? 🙂


    September 2, 2014 at 1:16 am

  2. Perhaps renaming it Parenthood 2? 😉


    September 2, 2014 at 6:17 am

  3. Really glad you liked it so much! I thought it was great too and, like you say, totally captivating. I really do think you could rename it ‘motherhood’, ‘fatherhood’, ‘sisterhood’, etc, as it’s so relatable to just about everyone. Mason did start to annoy me a little towards the end though!

    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    September 2, 2014 at 9:37 am

    • It’s strange that it’s so captivating, isn’t it? Ordinary life sometimes can be more engaging than explosions in space.


      September 3, 2014 at 12:09 am

  4. I’m so prepared to watch this soon, hopefully with enough sleep under my belt and I figure I’ll love it because I love coming of age movies and well, if this is not that at its purest form, I don’t know what is.


    September 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    • I think you’re going to love it. Because again: it’s really not just a boy who grows. To me it was just as much a coming-of-age film about his parents.


      September 3, 2014 at 12:09 am

  5. Lovely review! I can’t wait to see Boyhood too.


    September 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

  6. Glad to hear that you loved it too. It’s probably my movie of the year. I still hope for an even better movie of course, you never know…


    September 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    • I think it’s up there for me as well. It will be hard to beat.


      September 9, 2014 at 7:33 am

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