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REVIEW: Boyhood

I have never seen a movie like this. And I probably won’t again.  It’s  a story about growing up, seen through the eyes of a child over  12 years.  Everyone ages naturally over the 12 years because the same actors were filmed  OVER the 12 years, shooting 3 to 4 days  each year. 

Director/writer Richard Linklater’s original plan was to devote 10 minutes  to each of the 12 years but the film  runs close to 3 hours. Trust me, most of it flies by . I  actually didn’t want this film to end.  I was that invested. So invested in this family’s life, I had to keep reminding myself  it wasn’t a documentary.

The story revolves around Mason , played by Austin , Texas native and newcomer Ellar Coltrane. Starring as his sister: another newcomer - Lorelei Linklater, the daughter of the film’s  creator.  In a career-defining role, Oscar-worthy Patricia Arquette plays the mom. Ethan Hawke is the dad. Hawke is the Linklater go-to star. Ethan stars and helped write Linklater’s other genre-bender,  what’s referred to as the “Before” series: a  trilogy of a  love relationship shot ten years apart. “Before Sunset”, “Before Midnight” and “Before Sunrise” co-stars Julie Delpy, who also helped with the script. Another must for your DVD list.

 As Linklater put it, not much happens in “Boyhood”.  It’s a film of moments. As one actor put it at the movie’s  end, the old adage is backward. It’s not “seize the moment”. It’s the moment that is seized. That’s what this film is:  seizing moments of growing up. Seizing moments of a family.  In life, it’s the moments we remember. “Boyhood” is profound and simple, all at once.

“Boyhood” is a love letter to Texas, where Houston native Linklater  shot his dark comedy “Bernie” with Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine (a DVD must for  your list), “Dazed and Confused” (which launched the career of  Matthew McConaughey) and “Slacker”.   Linklater’s  devotion to Texas is even reflected in the musical choices for “Boyhood” , which includes Arcade Fire, whose lead grew up in a burb of Houston.  Linklater is so Texas-centered , he refuses to spend much working time away from his home in Austin.

Character-driven and as wise as it is funny, “Boyhood” is  easily the finest film I’ve seen all year.  Linklater’s gotta be an Oscar nominee.  He’s a true trailblazer .  Anyone in any family will relate. If you see just one  movie this year, make it “Boyhood”.


4 stars


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