I feel a Hipsterish cringe as Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ sounds out over the opening shot of a cloud strewn blue sky, before I remember that I secretly think this is a beautiful song. For a long time, I didn’t even hate Coldplay, I was above all that, they were just an Indie ‘In’ for those younger than me. Of course in recent years I’ve found their self important, remedial plinkety-plonking bombast grossly offensive, but that’s just an irrelevant by-product of experience and the slow creeping cynicism that heralds the beginning of the inevitable rendezvous with decrepitude. As Coldplay serenade the theater, you’ll have to forego a certain amount of cynicism. We’re looking down on 5 year old Mason, unfettered by such trivialities, lying on his back on serene grass musing on the incongruous blue above as it becomes clear that this musical cue is a signifier for this place in time, 2002.
Like many others I was introduced to Richard Linklater through that practically-an-‘American Graffiti’-remake ‘Dazed and Confused’, a film that profoundly resounded with me at graduation age and continues to bring me to nostalgiagasm with every revisit. Despite being set in an alien place and time to that of the Alternative Rock, Super Nintendo binges and Pamela Anderson wanks which provided the repeating Scooby Doo background for my intermittently THC and lysergically-sauteéd pubescent brain, those accommodating Senior stereotypes, Texan-bedroom bongs, ‘curfew’ transgressions and Moon Tower pilgrimages somehow perfectly encapsulate what the rest of my life was like at that time. I immediately worked backwards to the stream-of-consequence of ‘Slacker’ before tracking down ‘Dazed and Confused’s comedown – the woefully underrated and disgracefully unavailable ‘SubUrbia’ (get it through iTunes NOW). These films both mirrored and somewhat shepherded my entry into the adult world while simultaneously inspiring an enmity toward it. Most of all they nourished a desire to solidify the tenets of my adolescent philosophy – a frame of mind I was canny enough to know that adults were primed to deride, while I intrinsically believed I was at the apogee of my intellectual existence: that precarious, finite tightrope walk between infinite possibility in the pretension and freneticism of youth and the certainty-clinging, fact-grasping, pot-bellied inertia of impending biological obsolescence.
‘Boyhood’ is set long after my own was over, but like its predecessors ambles through a similar abandon of classical narrative with pitstops along the way into beautiful instances of self-contained significance. Much like life, to have someone itemise and detail these oncoming occurrences would do a disservice to the experience of discovering it on one’s own terms. Much has been made of Linklater’s ‘gimmick’ of shooting over a 12 year period, but the underlying results are gradually astounding as we witness the subtle physical and emotional permutations of the film’s subjects.
Having been renamed ‘Boyhood’ from its original ’12 Years’ after that similarly titled film snatched most of last year’s Oscars, the name is somewhat misleading; while Ellar Coltrane’s Mason is ultimately the anchor for what transpires, his loved ones are no less fleshed-out, with Lorelei Linklater, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke turning in astounding performances – the sage Arquette blossoms through well-intentioned mistakes while the immature Hawke burns-out into an endearing acquiescence and Lorelei Linklater’s initially incandescent Samantha seems to, at least as I perceived it, mutedly succumb to societal expectation for her gender.
The end product transcends description. I’m sat here as the self-described ‘Godzilla in the Metropolis of Cardboard box’ teetering on the precipice of potential relocation into my first owned home, with partner and four year old daughter in tow. This paltry ‘review’ is merely my cack-handed attempt at rallying my electric friends congregated here in experiencing this remarkable work of art firsthand before it is forever sullied by the already gathering adulation and inevitably redefining (but thoroughly deserved) accolades and commendations. I can think of no better way to curtail this inept clamour for your patronage than by quoting the recommendation I sent my sister while trying to get my head around writing this (in the medium befitting a lack of possibility in which to express oneself succinctly, text message) :
“Katy, it is its own particular world but it somehow speaks of the Universal experience. Give it a kiss with your delighted eyes! x”
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Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.