Boyhood

Director:

R. Linklater

Producer:

R. Linklater et al

Year:

2014

Distributor:

IFC Films

Country:

USA

Running time:

166 min

Genre:

Drama

Format:

Colour

Availability:

DVD

Keywords:

Bildungsroman, Dormitory, leaving home, professor - student sexual relationship, Class Differences, Upward social mobility
Summary:
Richard Linklater's critically-acclaimed film depicts the childhood of Mason Evans Jr., beginning from the time he was six years old, living with his family in Arlington, Texas, and following his path to adulthood until he leaves home to attend Sul Ross State University (Alpine, Texas).
Teaching Notes:
Socio-cultural portrayal of higher education
Higher education figures prominently in Mason's family: Mason's mother, Olivia, is a single parent, who is in an unhappy relationship with her working-class boyfriend, Ted. Anxious to improve her financial and employment prospects, Olivia leaves Ted and moves to Houston to complete her Master's degree from the University of Houston, and subsequently marries one of her professors. Mason's older sister, Samantha, is a student at the University of Texas, Austin.

In terms of curricular use, however, the film is an excellent example of the symbolic place that leaving home for college holds in American mythology. Director Richard Linklater commented that Boyhood was based on the "core story elements — divorced parents, drunk stepdads, an eventual departure to college." (Kornhaber, 2014, p.88) As Mason prepares to leave home for college, his mother breaks down crying, his departure clearly representing a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. Linklater lays on the emphasis during a long scene as Mason drives his pickup down an empty stretch of highway toward the distant mountain peaks of Alpine, Texas. Of course, the myth also necessitates that Mason live on campus — like every other college student depicted in American film — despite the fact that the majority of American undergraduate students live at home.