Song of the Day #2,222: ‘Hero’ – Family of the Year

boyhoodYou could have predicted as early as 12 years ago that Richard Linklater’s Boyhood would be my favorite film of 2014. That’s when he started shooting this examination of a boy’s life from kindergarten through the start of college.

I’m a Linklater fanboy, for starters, and I’m a sucker for this sort of visual time travel. I’m the guy who takes a beach photo every year on my daughters’ birthdays so I can run them in a sequence and marvel at their growth.

Linklater has pulled off a similar stunt with his Before trilogy, charting a romance over 18 years.

But Boyhood is something different, and even more special — a 12-year recap of a life experienced in the course of one feature length film. As far as I know, it’s the first film of its kind, and how many times can you say that about any movie?

Novelty aside, the film wouldn’t work if all it had going for it was the framework. But it works in spades, capturing the essence of childhood through a series of moments — some big, but most small — that accumulate to form something monumental.

Such is the cumulative effect that by the end of the film, during a relatively mundane scene between the boy, Mason, and a teacher, I teared up. It caught me by surprise, because it wasn’t a “movie” moment. It wasn’t underlined with a musical cue, or fine-tuned in the editing room to achieve maximum impact.

It’s just a conversation between a graduating senior and a teacher who has seen year after year of graduating seniors move on, each special in its own way. She offers two nuggets of wisdom, one profound (“Follow your heart”) and one practical (“Don’t forget to floss”). I think it was the floss that got me teary.

Boyhood is full of moments like that one — a Harry Potter book release party, the first day at a new school, a couple of kids flipping through a lingerie catalog, an awkward conversation about contraception with your dad. We’re watching a life unfold through the mundane memories we all have of our own childhoods.

As Mason’s mother, Patricia Arquette does career-best work, transforming onscreen almost as much as her son. Linklater favorite Ethan Hawke is wonderful as the laid-back dad who is great at parachuting in for frequent, meaningful visits. Mason’s sister is played with infectious authenticity by Linklater’s own daughter, Lorelai.

And Ellar Coltrane, in literally the role of his lifetime, is a marvel. I don’t know if he’ll ever act again, or if he’s truly even acting in this film, but he has shared something truly special with all of us by performing in this film.

So that wraps up my top five of the year so far. A great batch of very different films. I hope the rest of 2014 proves half as strong.

Note: I really love this song from Boyhood, ‘Hero’ by Family of the Year.

[Chorus]
Let me go
I don’t wanna be your hero
I don’t wanna be a big man
Just wanna fight with everyone else
Your masquerade
I don’t wanna be a part of your parade
Everyone deserves a chance to
Walk with everyone else

[Verse]
While holding down
A job to keep my girl around
And maybe buy me some new strings
And her a night out on the weekends

[Verse 2]
And we can whisper things
Secrets from our American dreams
Baby needs some protection
But I’m a kid like everyone else

So let me go
I don’t wanna be your hero
I don’t wanna be a big man
I just wanna fight like everyone else

[Chorus]

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,222: ‘Hero’ – Family of the Year

  1. Dana says:

    Going into this film, I had multiple reasons to come out disliking it or, at the very least, being less than impressed. I was one of the few who didn’t like Before Sunrise, finding it talky, draggy and dull. And now here was a movie by Linkletter clocking in just shy of 3 hours, fueled by much the same heaping of effusive critical praise that accompanied the Before films.

    And yet,I as intrigued by the novelty of this undertaking and so, with a fair amount of reluctance and skepticism, I took the plunge. Boy, am I glad I did. The movie was everything you describe above. A one of a kind experience that succeeds both because of and despite the gimmick of filming over 12 years.

    Oh, and I really love the song too.

  2. pegclifton says:

    Just loved your review of this film šŸ™‚ I’m sure I will see it at some point

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