The stages of growing up progress quite predictably. We are young and full of life. We begin to become aware of our bodies and the presence of others. We succumb to the will of our peers until we develop a backbone and find a path of our own.
What differentiates each generation from the next and the one before is the distinct events in history that affects us in a way no other generation can understand.
Gameboys. Braces. Soulja Boy. Bangs. Apple. Facebook. 9/11. Obama. These are the realities of my generation. Rich Linklater’s Boyhood embraces the millennials generation in an honest and authentic portrayal, free of judgment and full of observation.
The story follows a young Mason from age 5 to 18. We watch as he grows up with his older sister, under the watchful eye of his devoted mother, and in the presence of his inconsistent but dedicated father. The film contains few truly shocking moments or plot twists. With his mother being a single mom, it comes as no surprise that she faces problems of her own as she juggles children, a career, and men. His dad being only partially present, but always caring, represents what we would normally expect in a broken family. The satisfying surprises arise with each new scene as we discover how the family is coping with life a year later. With all actors participating in the making of a twelve yearlong film, the maturation of each character blossoms in a wonderfully endearing and familiar way. We want to see what Mason will do next, who he will become, and where he will go, but in many ways we already know because we have done it ourselves.
Ellar Coltrane (Mason) and Lorelei Linklater (Samantha) were both born in 1994, as was I. This revelation made the movie that much more profound. The story reaches beyond the individual experiences of Mason, but reflect the very moments of my own childhood. I myself owned painfully white sneakers and remembered pressing my mom to allow me to dye my hair a bold color. The film portrays Mason’s unique experiences but they embody the experiences of a generation.
By the end of the film, you feel content but also uncertain. Mason and his sister are both in college and have a future ahead of them. And millennials are either about to enter college, are well into it, or have only just graduated. The movie ends at the moment in which we are currently experiencing. It is a reminder that growing up is a rollercoaster ride and our lives are the culmination of events that have passed. Each moment is significant. With Masons story being as much his as it is ours, we’ll simply have to live life to find out what happens next.