After watching Boyhood for the second time some days ago, I realized, again, how awesome this film is. I won’t go about in length how this film is a marvelous achievement in storytelling, shooting with the same actors over a period of 12 years, but rather I’ll write about how it touched me.
The beautiful thing about this movie is, it doesn’t have a theme, per se. It doesn’t try to get across any idea and embed it into the viewer forcefully, it just tells a story. Consequently, from a basic teaser of the movie, like the ones they show as a short description on IMDb, the story seems plain. The IMDb description of this movie reads, “The life of Mason, from early childhood to his arrival at College”, which screams lack of depth. But the marvel of this movie lies in the simplicity of the story itself, it tries to make the story as real and intimate as possible, so that every viewer can relate to it in different ways, making the movie a different experience for everyone, similar only in the aspect that it warms up your insides in a really nice way.
The first time I saw the movie, I didn’t pick up the finer philosophies woven into the dialogues, rather I just felt that nice feeling. That itself made me fall in love with this movie. But the second time I watched it, I could relate to it at a whole different degree, so much, it seemed almost freaky to me. I thought, how can this movie speak the exact same thoughts that I have been thinking the past few weeks? The immediate explanation I could think of was — the first time I watched the film, the ideas got embedded in the back of my head, and then it manifested slowly later on. When I was discussing this apparent freak occurrence with a friend, she told me, “We all see things differently depending on our stance in life at that point of time”. I liked that explanation more, and I think that’s the way it works — art in general. You interpret it and relate to it according to you, your personality, your stance in life at that point and so on, and so the experience is different for everyone.
There are two characters in this movie that really touched me, making me think about life more and more. One is, obviously, Mason (junior). And another is Mason’s mom. Trying to analyze Mason’s personality from an MBTI standpoint, I think he’s an INTP. But the way he’s portrayed in the movie kind of resembles an INFP in some aspects, so taking that into account I’d say he’s an INXP. Actually, his philosophies and ideals scream INTP, but his artsy interests makes him unlike a typical INTP, rather like a typical INFP. But as I’m focusing on his ideals and thoughts only, I’ll go with the INTP part of him.
From childhood only, Mason knew he’s different as he’s more into movies and books than any of his friends. His character especially gets depth after he grows up into young-adulthood, his thoughts and philosophies being expressed mostly through his conversations with his girlfriend Sheena. I will copy-paste one of them from IMDb here —
Mason: I just feel like there are so many things that I could be doing and probably want to be doing that I’m just not.
Sheena: Why aren’t you?
Mason: I mean, I guess, it’s just being afraid of what people would think. You know, judgement.
Sheena: Yeah. I guess it’s really easy to say, like I don’t care what anyone else thinks. But everyone does, you know. Deep down.
Mason: I find myself so furious at all these people that I am in contact with just for controlling me or whatever but you know they are not even aware they are doing it.
Sheena: Yeah. So, in this perfect world where no one is controlling you. What’s different? What changes?
Mason: Everything. I mean, I just wanna be able to do anything I want, because it makes me feel alive. As opposed to giving me the appearance of normality.
Sheena: Whatever that means.
Mason: I don’t think it means much.
Then, the next quote by Mason, where he is talking about college, but this can be extended to all our life.
Mason: But it’s like a preordained slot that’s already got your name and number on it. I don’t think it’s the key to my future. ‘Cause, I mean, look at my mom. She got her degree and got a pretty good job. She can pay her bills. I like your mom. I like my mom, too. I just mean… Basically she’s still just as fuckin’ confused as I am.
This statement of Mason is confirmed by her mom herself later in the film, when Mason is leaving for College. After living most of her life in the rat race, when she sends off Mason to college, she breaks down with a crisis that we should all try to avoid.
Mom: You know what I’m realising? My life is just going to go. Like that. This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. Getting divorced… again. Getting my masters degree. Finally getting the job I wanted. Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what’s next? Huh? It’s my fucking funeral! Just go, and leave my picture!
Mason: Aren’t you jumping ahead by, like, 40 years or something?
Mom: I just thought there would be more.
Breaking out of the rat race and going perpendicular to the direction of the herd takes a lot of inner strength, self-confidence, and capability of thinking freely, in the truest sense of the word. Following the herd is easier, as it makes you think that you’re normal. The society also treats you that way, even rewards you temporarily, for being normal. But at the end of our life, we all would feel like Mason’s Mom did, “I just thought there would be more”. The hard truth is, there won’t be more unless you actively strive for what you really want to do, what really would make you not have this thought when you’re old. Deciding what it is, is not an easy task, sooner we do it, the lesser we’ll have to suffer in life.