While I was growing up parents always looked to me massively overworked, extremely worried about routine details and mysteriously distant. Not my parents specifically, but everyone’s parents. And not emotionally distant, but rationally distant, as if they were sternly following some secret agenda.
They certainly did not look as if they were having any fun. Maybe they were in fact having a lovely time, knee deep in the joys of parenthood, but they did not show, at least not in the small things of the day.
What impressed me the most in Boyhood, apart from the marvel of witnessing a very young man turning into a young man, which is an amazing sight for everyone I believe, whether or not you’ve got sons or brothers or long-time friends of your own, it’s called universality, what impressed me the most was the discomfort of witnessing a parent in trouble, Olivia in this case, so much in trouble as not to be able to enjoy her day-to-day life.
I’m not blaming her ambition of course, ambition is perfectly fine and very constructive, I’m talking about not allowing herself to seize the moment, like we used to say when Ethan Hawke was young, or not allowing the moment to seize her, as the next generation says apparently.
On a side note, I am thankful for this film because it creates a visual mythology of the first decade of this miserable century through pop culture. When you’re an adult you’re perpetually overworked and alienated by routine (ops), so time passes quickly and ten years seem nothing to you but it’s an awful lot of time actually, so it’s nice that someone is writing down notes for us and so soon.