Open letter to Richard Linklater on ‘Boyhood’

Dear Richard Linklater:

I am writing to you concerning your movie “Boyhood.” I had to confess that I missed it the first time it came out. I could blame San Diego Comic-Con but that would not be totally true. Being that what I know about boyhood is directly related to my experiences in sisterhood, and I barely speak with my brother at all, I thought it would be all too dreary. And yet, weeks after viewing it I have Mindy on my mind. “Boyhood” is a good name, but your movie is also about fatherhood and motherhood and even sisterhood.

Indeed, you did have a sister in the movie and at first, I wished that the movie had been about her. The boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), in “Boyhood” was a bit of a slug and she (Lorelei Linklater) was much more outgoing, smarter and not too sweet. And yet, eventually, I did come to like the boy and his observant ways.

Just before I saw the movie, I had been discussing “The Imitation Game” with my husband. That was a movie he wanted to see, but we were both disappointed. As someone who is familiar with geniuses and even scientific geniuses and scientific research which is predominately collaborative in nature, we found that slighting other geniuses to make one shine brighter was misleading and made poor Alan Turing more Sherlockian than human. As a biopic, the movie thus failed to present the man. My husband queried me that if writers decides to avoid writing a story without conflict, how will the writers make it interesting. My example at the time was Vanessa Redgrave in the 1997 movie “Mrs. Dalloway.”

That was a decidedly British story based on Virginia Woolf’s novels. The themes might veer dangerously into that now much maligned and almost dirty word, feminism. Could character development and womanly introspection be the reason conflict as in the one upmanship and the butting of heads and egos isn’t necessary.

I dragged my husband to see your movie and luckily, he did enjoy. We agreed that instead of forcing conflict between the characters, making contrivances between sister and brother, step-siblings, your movie built and developed nuanced characters. I felt that I knew the characters better though they were fictional, than I knew the real characters of the biopic “The Imitation Game.”

After seeing it I thought this movie should be shown to every child at different ages, at least, as soon as they begin shooting videos. Every parent should be asked to watch this movie to consider how little gestures tell children volumes and that even if happily-ever-after doesn’t mean your mother and father together, that doesn’t mean they have to be apart and that you have to choose between the two.

We can only hope that our home movie compilations will be subtly influenced by your film, that we can watch for the little gesture that express so much and avoid pandering to the sensationalistic. You made us remember that the beauty and interest is in the journey, the development and evolution of a person.

As a woman, I appreciated the development of Patricia Arquette’s Olivia, that she is a strong, intelligent woman doing her best. Ethan Hawke’s Mason Sr. starts at a slacker and yet we see he was just slow to mature.  Mason and Olivia are two people with lives on different schedules.

I hoped that she would have happiness with her professor Bill (Marco Perella) and yet there’s always an ethical problem with a professor dating his student and yet we see that pattern repeat itself with Jim (Brad Hawkins).

Thank you for giving us a brave and believable woman character in Arquette’s Olivia and for giving Arquette a role on the big screen that she well deserves.  Thank you for presenting us kids who aren’t too precocious, too smart or too sweet.

One thing we did wish at the end. We wondered what happened to Mindy (Jamie Howard) and Randy (Andrew Villarreal), the children of Olivia’s second husband, Bill Welbrock. Will there be a follow-up to “Boyhood”? If so, I hope Mason will meet Mindy and Randy again. If not, I still look forward to your next endeavor.

P.S. I loved the soundtrack and it made me remember how much fun I had visiting Austin and dancing tango. 


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