Cinematic Releases: Boyhood

We're a little late to the party with our Boyhood review. But there's no time like the present to give it a read.

"Dangit!!!Mommy said
I'm too old to breastfeed."
The tag line on the poster for Boyhood says “A Moving 12 Year Epic”. It really means it. 

Richard Linklater delivers one of the most unique and ambitious projects in modern film. He captures the life of a young boy and his family in a way no other film has done before. Linklater gathered his core cast for a handful of days each year over the course of twelve years to craft this undoubtedly unique story. The effect is both seamless and transfixing.

At the center of the story is young Mason Evans, played by Ellar Coltrane, who is by all accounts your average kid. The film features young Mason growing up with his single mother (Patricia Arquette) and sister (Linklater’s real life daughter Lorelei) with visits from his father (Ethan Hawke) on the weekends. 

The magic of this movie is in the small details. We get to watch Mason grow up before our eyes and struggle with the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence. Make no mistake, this is a scripted work of fiction, but it's presented in such a flawless manner that felt like I was watching real people. As the years go by and their lives change, I couldn't help but become emotionally invested in these characters. I felt as though I had grown to know them through Linklater's remarkable gift for capturing near reality on film. The commitment Linklater draws from his cast is truly amazing. By crafting current events and pop culture into the background of each year, the story felt ambitiously authentic.

"Son, always remember.
This car makes up for all
your shortcomings as a man."
Linklater has become a master at conveying the nuance of human emotion. With his Before Sunrise trilogy, he used a similar technique by making each film 9 years apart. This allowed him to tell the story of his characters over an 18 year period.  By gaining the trust of his actors, Linklater is able to use time to push his narrative storytelling in such a natural way that it's easy to forget they're not real. Coltrane and Arquette are especially impressive and deserve some serious consideration come award season.

Watching Boyhood is a different experience. There isn’t a defined plot. The focus is on presenting realistic, believable characters and one boy's youth captured on film. There are no explosion packed car chase scenes, no aliens, superheroes or robots. There's just a kid named Mason and the connection that is built by watching his life evolve with more realism than anything I’ve seen on film before.

-Brian Rohe