This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A Movie Shot Over 12 Years: Why Reviewing ‘Boyhood’ Is Like Reviewing Life

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Surangya Kaur:

When I told a friend I want to review the movie Boyhood next, he asked me, “But won’t reviewing Boyhood be like reviewing life?” I could stop right here and it would tell you as much as another thousand words will, but I’ll write those words anyway.

“Kerouac, Bukowski, and Cassavetes are all responsible for inspiring more bad art than anybody else. Because the second anybody encounters their work, it looks so simple that they think they could do it themselves.” Rick is the same way. He makes telling a story so effortless, casual, and accidental that one imagines there is no real craft involved. Like Bukowski just wakes up in the morning and burps an elegiac poem, or Cassavetes just turns the camera on his wife, or Kerouac just takes a drive and comes back with a novel, Linklater seems to just whip up a film.” —Ethan Hawke, Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film


Those of you familiar with Richard Linklater’s works, especially the Before Sunrise trilogy will understand what Hawke is trying to say here. There’s not much in the movie that I can spoil for you. For its lack of a tumultuous storyline, it might even seem effortless to make such a film. But that is what makes it truly brilliant.

The movie was shot for a few weeks each year, for duration of twelve years, with the same cast. Just as an idea, it seems inconceivable. To go ahead and make it anyway was a gallant decision, and the fact that it came out to be as good as it is, is even more astounding.

The movie is the story of a 6-year-old boy, Mason, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), from his childhood to his high school graduation. He has a younger sister, played by Lorelei Linklater (Richard’s daughter), and Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as his divorced parents. The story is not just a bildungsroman of this boy but more of an eloquent portrayal of maturing people. We see the whole family grow and evolve in front of our eyes. Watching the parents grow up is as much as a rewarding experience as the children. Makes you realize how fickle we are in terms of the people we are and how, even though, we might think who we are right now is who we’ve always wanted to be, we’re still constantly changing; adding wisdom to our lives.

Linklater put immense trust in his cast to stick with him and his movie for the whole duration of twelve years, more so in the child artists who might have grown up unwilling to continue their work or unconvincing as actors. But Ellar and Lorelei were quite spectacular throughout. Hawke needs no introduction. He seems to have a special attachment to Richard’s time bound projects and does a virtuosic job in all of them. Arquette couldn’t have done a better role of a struggling mother with a poor taste in men but her children’s best interests at heart.

The movie has a melodious soundtrack which has been placed rather excellently in terms of the lyrics.

“Let me go.
I don’t wanna be your hero.”

These two lines, from the song Hero by Family Of The Year, can be used as an aphoristic summation of Mason’s character.


Linklater wholly relied on the power of time as a concept to carry the movie through. “I bet the whole farm on what I thought would work with every ounce of my cinematic being, the way we perceive time and cinema and the way we identify with people put before us in a certain way. I thought, “Oh, there will be this cumulative effect.”

You’re sitting in a seat for two hours and 40 minutes or whatever. You’re kind of living through this life and there’s an investment. You’re giving your subject time and they’re giving you their whole life, but there is a reciprocal thing going. I felt that that’s how it would feel to watch it. So I just knew that I didn’t need to trump it up, I didn’t need a lot of plot, I didn’t need a lot of machinations, and that with the storytelling I could just kind of show life.” (Source)

The movie doesn’t explicitly declare how much time has passed, but rather depends on you to perceive it by the events in the characters’ lives. Linklater trusts the audience to make that out on their own.

Very rarely do we come across a work of art that picks up so many moments and milestones from our own lives and evokes all the emotions that went along with them. It’s like the movie is holding a mirror to see your own reflection in over all these years. It puts you in this warm and cosy place as you watch a little curious boy grow up into an intelligent teenager, experiencing all the traumas that come in the process and having mild existential crises like we all do. It will make you chuckle in amusement and nostalgia and at times upset you by reminding you of the unpleasant phases as well.

The movie is a must watch and easily amongst the best films of this year. It is also unique in its style and has its own special place reserved in cinematic history.

You must be to comment.
  1. Madhuri

    Amazing movie.. Just like a time capsule of our lives. 🙂

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Mister August

By Tapesh Upadhyay

By Vanita Ganesh

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below