"I just thought there would be more," a defeated and world-weary Patricia Arquette mumbles around 3/4 of the way through Richard Linklater's 3 hour opus, Boyhood. Around half an hour later the audience comes to the same conclusion as the credits roll over a particularly poignant moment. "I thought there would be more" was the first disappointing reflection I thought about once the credits rolled. I thought a 12-year long shoot that had garnered such hype and critical acclaim would all add up to something... more. Something that would transcend what we've come to expect of cinema. Something Grandiose and Important with capital letters and signposts spoon-feeding you what you're supposed to take away from the film. It took me a while to realise that, thankfully, that's not the type of movie Boyhood is.

Instead, Boyhood revels in the mundane and the everyday. The film is less about the Bigger Picture and more about capturing a snapshot of everything we take for granted. Although for a while it's not clear that this is what Boyhood's trying to do. At first it feels like the film is having an identity crisis between whether or not it wants to capture the real or whether it's trying to tell a contained Hollywood narrative. That is, until Patricia Arquette's admittance in the final third. That moment rings so poignant and true because it 's completely reflective of Hollywood's approach to our formative years as a series of highly scripted melodramatic set-pieces. But Boyhood revolts against this approach. Life isn't about the defining moments and milestones Hollywood's programmed us to expect, but instead it's the smaller everyday interactions that make growing up exciting. Unfortunately, studio movies rarely focus on the quieter, minute moments of day-to-day living, so both the audience and Patricia Arquette come to the same deflating conclusion: I thought there would be more.

Of course, Boyhood's small-scale approach only really becomes clear in retrospect. In the first act the film suggests that it's nothing more than the same regurgitated coming-of-age cliches we've seen a thousand times before. A set up about reuniting parents, or a plot about an abusive marriage both threaten to de-centre the whole film. Fortunately, Boyhood presents these major moments as chapters of a larger canvas. The parents realise they aren't compatible rather quickly, and it's never brought up again. There's no narrative resolution where they decided to give things another go, for old times sake. They just move on. Likewise the abusive husband is traumatic and ends in an extremely emotional and explosive pay-off, but it's something both the characters and the film move on from and grow from. Boyhood presents the very clear message that yes, while we might experience something in our lives impossibly terrible or surprisingly euphoric, we aren't defined by singular moments.

And it's this ideology that permeates through every scene and chapter of Boyhood. Though it covers the entire maturity of Ellar Coltrane's Mason, a lot of the milestones we've come to expect in a coming-of-age film are nowhere to be seen. There's no big first kiss moment, no teary-eyed graduation, no awkward first sex scene. There's nothing romantically Hollywood to be seen in Boyhood. In fact, Linklater makes it a point to tackle these scenarios seen so often in a refreshingly unique way.

When Boyhood depicts some of the larger milestones of growing up it ops to investigate them at a deeply human level. Sure, we see Mason around his graduation, but the film is more interested with how this maturity affects his relationship with his father, rather than showing us a clichéd graduation speech. It's feels incredibly energising for a modern movie to tackle the development of of adulthood in such a subdued way. While the mumblecore movement has been tinkering with this style of naturalism for a few decades now, nothing has felt quite as accomplished or as confident as Boyhood.

Even as Mason grows into a bit of a pretentious arse, and Patricia Arquette's character becomes, understandably, more bitter as the movie progresses, it's not to the detriment of the film. Boyhood's commitment to veer away from an idealised progression of maturity and family means that it doesn't construct entirely likeable characters. Not that this means it's concerned with dwelling in pessimism, chronicling a group of mostly sad and empty people. It very happily hunkers down in a spot somewhere in-between these extremes. These characters are understandably flawed, and to have it any other way would be to oppose the film's entire premise. Linklater aspires to chronicle the life of an "average family" (whatever that means), and while of course it's not immune to some Hollywood stylings and storytelling clichés now and again, it's surprising just how close he gets.

Boyhood is my favourite of 2014 because of how personal an experience it can be. I noticed very recently that I just couldn't relate to kids anymore. I had lost the ability to properly empathise with their problems. For the first time in forever I couldn't remember exactly what was going through my own mind when I was growing up. The things I understood and the things I couldn't grasp. My fears and my hopes. The memories weren't there. The realization hit me pretty hard, because the one puzzle you can never figure out when you're 11 and in a mood is why your parents never understand your reasoning for the things you do. "But you were my age once. You should know how it feels," or some similar variation. And I've recently learned that, no, as you grow up it becomes harder and harder to recapture authentically the exact feelings you had as a kid.

Boyhood, for the first, maybe only, time in a long time, managed to rekindle and reignite a lot of the same feelings of those formative years. And a film that has the ability to do that needs to be commended.

When I finished Boyhood, I thought there would be more. In retrospect, I'm so glad there wasn't.