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Boyhood: 12 Moments That Seize You

As I write this, my wife is showing her old jewellery to our two year-old daughter. Rings worn when she herself was a little girl. We ought not to forget those times we share. They may be fleeting in the scheme of things, but they are truly meaningful moments of our lives. 

From the opening frame of Mason staring up into the sky, through twelve years, to Mason being away from home and family with his potential new friends, Boyhood depicts parts of life. Moments we kind of often take for granted. Or remember differently to someone else. Moments you do not often see in cinema, but are around you all time. And always have been. Richard Linklater poignantly captures these significant life events of all shapes and sizes in the magnificent Boyhood. I’m sure you have all seen it by now, and all have your favorite scenes that touched you. Here are 12 (of course, twelve, but could easily have been forty) smaller moments in the film that lingered with me:


When Mason’s mom hears he has not handed in many of his homework assignments, his response is that the teacher did not ask for them. It is an instant signal that our protagonist is merely a small boy at this point. And that children are likely more logical than we give them credit for.


After spending some quality time with their dad, Mason and Samantha have to watch on as slightly irate mom has words with him. Kids can’t fully understand why adults fight, but the fact is, you just don’t want to see your dad leave, period. Especially without saying goodbye.


It is soon apparent that Bill is a ticking time bomb. When he asks the mom to back him up regarding the kids not completely their chores, she does compliantly, but she also feels it is relevant for him to see that he may be too strict. The scene also shows us that Samantha is developing that rebellious teenage attitude.


One of the great Linklater-esque scenes. Dad does not want idle chit-chat with his kids, so implores them to be detailed in their telling of recent life events. Samantha obliges him, but he amusingly comes unstuck. Even more so when Mason turns his theory back on him and his personal life.


Mason and Samantha are staying at their dad’s messy house (he lives with Jimmy), but the kids seem less concerned about his lifestyle than he may himself be a little bit embarrassed about. He is later reassured by his daughter’s sense of humor and assurance she may not fall asleep with the earphones in her ears.


When Mason is forced to have his hair cut (it was really long), you have to feel for him. He pretends he is ill so he does not have to face the other kids at school laughing at him – which they kind of do. When Mason receives the note passed around the class that Nicole thinks his hair “looks kewl” his smile tells us he is over the haircut already. Nicole is also the name of the girl Mason sits with in the very final scene.


The final scene with mom when she breaks down is the one most folks talk about (and likely Oscar nomination clip), but much earlier in the movie when they are finally rid of Bill, mom bursts into tears when she can’t answer her daughter’s concerns. You truly feel for a mother who is heartbroken that she does not have the answers right now.


Also one of my favorite scenes. Dad is bemused to learn more about Samantha from her Facebook page than their interactions. Realising his daughter has a boyfriend, dad’s open advice about the risks of teenage pregnancy only embarrasses the poor girl. They are interrupted by Tammy, a young woman dad is dating. The smug look Mason gives his dad as Tammy leaves is priceless.


Mason gets some male-bonding time with his dad as they go camping. They talk generally about kissing girls, Star Wars, and peeing on camp fires. The real magic of this sequence is how comfortable they appear to be as they catch up on the parts of their respective lives they may have missed thus far.


Not exactly a plot turning scene, but crucial all the same, when Mason runs into Jill on her bike, and we follow them in one take. They just chit-chat as kids do, asking questions about where they’ve been or what their plans might be. Well, actually Jill does most of the talking, but this scene is basically Slacker. Brilliant.


Following graduation, mom and dad find themselves alone in the kitchen (they rarely share such screen time in the near three hours of the film). The tone of the scene captures the realisation of the changes in their own separate lives in the years that have gone by. But more than that, the overwhelming pride they have of their grown up kids. As shooting neared a close, I wonder how feelings of the actors mirrored their characters.


Having once done some manual work for their house, the family meet Ernesto again, now a restaurant manager. He humbly tells mom that he took her advice to go to college, and gratefully owes his current success to her. She is touched, and I suspect had some of her confidence restored that she has indeed done a lot of good. It is a lovely moment.


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