The Human Face of Boyhood

The Human Face of Boyhood

Full of careful observation, ‘Boyhood’ goes some way to reflecting a desire to humanise brands. Something we pride ourselves on doing at Spinnaker…

PatriciaArquette has recently scooped up a lifetime’s worth of awards for BestSupporting Actress in ‘Boyhood’. This is the film she described in oneinterview as ‘human and small’.

If you haven’t seen it, you’ll no doubt have heard the hype. A groundbreaking story of growing up, filmed over 12 years using the same cast. All seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes.

Fans of Richard Linklater (who wrote and directed the whole experiment) were already in love with the director’s patience and commitment. His ‘Before’ project started in 1995, with the two characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy revisited again in 2004 and 2013. The trilogy unfolds gently and tenderly, meandering in and out of their relationship.

What I took out of the ‘Before’ films is that it’s not so much about what happens that really matters – it’s how those things happen and how we react to them that makes the difference and makes us human.

‘Boyhood’ reminded me of this. The film holds fragments in time to the light, showing glimpses of a boy’s journey to adulthood. We all have our own scrapbook memories of growing up which, when pieced together, form our own unique story.

Linklater’s vision is astonishing. Firstly, coming up with the plan to film over all that time – When can we get everyone one together every year? / What happens if somebody drops out before we’re done? / What happens if the studio pulls the plug? / Just who is our audience anyway?

And then there’s the actual filming and writing, with a flexible script that blossomed and grew with the cast, allowing for little bits of their own life to shine through. It was Ethan Hawke who gave his own daughter a coming-of-age mix-tape and Linklater wrote this into story. Hawke’s character presents his son with The Black Album, a compilation of The Beatles’ finest solo material.

As music plays such an important part in the film – especially as a marker of time – I wonder if there’s any coincidence that one of the most poignant moments of the film reminds me of a famous lyric? The mother (Arquette) watches Mason pack up his things to move out for University. “I just thought there’d be more,” she says.

Which makes me think of John Lennon, in a song written for his own son Sean*, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

In ‘Boyhood’, we witness how one boy and his on-screen family change over 12 years but perhaps it’s Mason’s closing words, “It’s always right now”, that encompass the very human-ness of this film.

So, we can relate to that. It’s how we work. We watch, we wait; we light the spark that creates the wonder moment. And then we see how people react. It’s about being human and that’s no small thing.

What would your wonder moment be?

*Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), Double Fantasy, 1980