Astrology: Film: Review: ‘Boyhood’ (2014)

IFC Films

IFC Films

For most of us, life is way too busy to allow for keen observations of minute gradations of growth and blossoming of family members, friends and other significant individuals who help grace our time on the planet. Perhaps it’s for this reason – our lack of attention to or even caring for such detail – that Richard Linklater has done it for us in his latest film Boyhood.

Boyhood is essentially Linklater’s bearing witness – up close and very personal – to about a dozen years of cumulative inhales and exhales of a fictional Texas family. The camera’s focus is on Mason (Ellar Coltrane), whom we first meet at the age of seven, lying on the lawn and staring upwards, seemingly hopefully, at the sky. His mom Olivia (Patricia Arquette) is divorced from the children’s father (Ethan Hawke) and also raising Mason’s older sister Sam (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter). Having a tough time making ends meet, Olivia’s about to marry one of her college professors, where a new home will provide this trio with, she believes, greater security.

Clocking in at nearly three hours, Boyhood – it was filmed over the same span of time covered in the movie, so viewers watch all the players transform, mature and age in their own skins within that chronological frame – doesn’t necessarily put much stock in physical security, like housing. For this mom and her two offspring, the new hubby and stepdad is a control-freak and abusive booze hound. Like the children’s biological father, the professor doesn’t last long in the marriage. It’s clear, suggests Linklater, that life is an experience that works best if you wing it.

In addition to the youngsters’ physical and emotional growth, what’s also addressed is their changing domiciles, as well as interactions with parents, school pals and romantic interests, as seen through popular culture. For Mason, whom we follow until his entry into college, it’s also about tracking his fascination with and increasing commitment to photography. He regards this activity as a process to help define himself, evoking what his father has suggested to him: “Separate yourself from the pack,” which is a clarion Saturnine exhortation to define oneself and become master of one’s fate.

IFC Films

IFC Films

Mason’s family’s bare-boned economic circumstances are also Saturnine and, although the family is close, emotional expression is hardly excessive. However, despite the absence of the most fertile soil here, roots take hold and life blooms.

What’s striking, as the movie reaches its end point – a reflective maturity, of sorts – is Olivia’s desire to pare down. Jupiterian accretion and expansiveness, so valued and embraced in youth, as children enlarge their vision of what’s possible in this lifetime, now sidles up to Saturn to create boundaries and eliminate inessentials.  It suddenly hits us: we’ve now also had the privilege, through Olivia, to observe an embrace of attrition and a welcome good riddance to whatever distracts us from the last part of our journeys.

Boyhood, a study of how one young person finds his true Solar identity, is a sobering look at Jupiterian growth and Saturnine contraction – a phenomenon of life as natural as breathing.

Astrology Film Rating: ☉♃ ♄ (Sun, Jupiter, Saturn)


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