‘Boyhood’ is full of storytelling magic, minus the story and any wizardry

Modern movie stories generally goes a little something like this:

  1. Hero.
  2. Hero travels to a different world (you can go metaphorical or literal on this one).
  3. Hero meets companion. (In Western society, this companion is almost always of a minority race, or disabled, or female. Look, this is what they taught me. I don’t make this stuff up. Discussion on this topic in another column.) This person usually dies.
  4. Hero meets shadow self: The nemesis, the “other” who they will battle who in many ways is just like the hero.
  5. Only hero or nemesis survives; success of the hero is dependent on whether he gets home.

This is all from a college course I took once about film and Jungian archetypes, and it’s been a while so I might be a little fuzzy on the edges. But in general, you can map virtually every movie Hollywood has spat out at us in this way. (TV series as well, to some extent.)

But it’s boring after a while. Once you know the outline and start seeing it again and again, it gets tiresome fast. Soon, it’s as if you’ve been listening to the same song for years and never realized how repetitive the tune actually is.

Stumbling across a movie that subverts that paradigm, then, is something worth talking about. I saw “Boyhood” a few weeks ago and really had no idea what to expect. I knew the premise: Director/writer Richard Linklater filmed a boy over about a dozen years, a few scenes every summer, capturing the growth process of a child becoming a man in real time. Simultaneously his stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as mom and dad also aged, but the spurt between single digits to voting age is far more pronounced and dramatic – and “Boyhood” is, as its title indicates, about the boy.

Read the rest of my latest "Between the Lines" column here, at Curiosity Quills!