He has this amazing ability to make the uninteresting interesting. His first film (I think) SLACKER is about nothing. It's a day in the life look at a bunch of twenty-somethings living in Austin, Texas. The film has no real narrative plot and is just linear vignette's that seamlessly move from one scene and character to the next. Some of the characters in certain scenes get long winded and may seem boring but in some weird way it works. You realize, like it or not, that you're hanging out with these people. You're experiencing a film version of life.
BOYHOOD isn't just a 12 year look at the life of Mason, a boy from Texas. It's a 12 year snapshot of family and life itself. I mentioned SLACKER earlier because that film is very similar in that it uses a lot of the same structure as this one does. Each of the vignettes chronicle a year or so of Mason and his family's life.
As for a synopsis the best thing to say is that the film is about family, parenting, and of course growing up. To describe the plot would just be paragraph after paragraph of me telling you scenes. I wouldn't know where to begin or end without fear of really ruining the experience of seeing it for yourself?
What I can do is tell you what I liked about the film. Everything felt genuine. No bullshit. What I mean by that is there was nothing dramatic for dramatic sake. Two examples. One scene there is an abusive drunken stepfather who hits Mason's mom. Any other movie would make this a big “Oscar bait” moment. You know, if the mother was played by Barbra Streisand or something clichéd like that. Not here. The film acknowledges it, deals with it, and then moves on.
Another scene that I thought was smart was when Mason was in eighth grade and him and his buddies were hanging with high schoolers. The kids were just hanging out doing what teenagers do. They start messing around with a saw blade. Like I said before, in any other movie this would be some dramatic plot point for our little Mason to learn a “life lesson”. The scene doesn't teach us anything, thank god. It's just a snapshot showing us and reminding some what it was like to be a teenager.
The use of music to signify the passage of time was cool. Very cool. I just love stuff like that. They also used stuff like Harry Potter and the Nintendo Wii which was fine, but to me the use of music was the coolest and most effective trope.
The cast was amazing as well. Ellar Coltrane who played Mason was amazing, probably the best child actor I've seen in a long time if not ever. And the funny thing is, this is his first and probably only film. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who played the parents were great.
This is the first time for a movie (that's not a summer blockbuster or genre picture) that I can honestly tell you to believe the hype. This is a masterpiece that needs to be seen! Go see it!