Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.
User Reviews: It’s true: Linklater took 12 years to develop his family of characters. While I was intimidated by the 3 hour run time, I have to admit, there was not a moment of this film I could have done without.
This is more than a coming of age story; the title "Family" or "Motherhood" would be just as appropriate. Set in Texas, the screenplay is natural and reminiscent of plenty of Linklater’s other work: a film that begins with dialog unlike any other Linklater films evolves into thoughtful, poignant discourse not unlike that from the "Before" series. One character in a late-night nacho scene was perhaps a callback to the heady "Waking Life." With that said, this absolutely is not a mere think piece. What makes this film truly fantastic is how accessible the material is, given its scope. Without giving any narrative away, I’ll say that the story itself is absolutely engaging and not without surprises. I watched many films at Sundance 2014 (including comedies), and this was the first that had the audience reacting throughout: we laughed, gasped, covered our eyes, and I am sure more than a few of us wept.
The characters are well developed. Don’t be fooled by the title — the spirit of Boyhood is alive here, but the female characters are thoroughly developed, distinct, and alive. Unfortunately, though it’s 2014, this is a rarity in cinema.
Like in "Waking Life" and "A Scanner Darkly", Linklater has again delivered true visual innovation. This time, however, his set-up is simple: shooting on film, Linklater replaced rotoscoping with time lapse. Has a single film ever intentionally traced a character over such a span of time? Linklater wisely chose to reveal the main character to us subtly. Despite this, the effect is riveting.
I am not exaggerating when I say that after I watched this film I sold all of my other tickets to Sundance films. Viewing Boyhood for the first time was such a joyful experience that I didn’t want to tarnish the experience by any comparison. Everyone in the Eccles theater shared a special few hours together. Though this only premiered a few days ago, I am confident that this will go down as one of the most ambitious and rewarding film projects of our time.