Richard Linklater’s enthralling and moving drama of a boy’s progress from childhood to young manhood is truly unprecedented: it was shot over 12 years, capturing its star and his fellow cast as they themselves grew and changed.
A marvel of a movie, Boyhood is the realisation of Richard Linklater’s 12-year project to base a feature around a boy’s progress through childhood to young manhood. His star Ellar Coltrane was six years old when shooting began in 2002 and 18 when his character Mason heads to college at film’s end. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (as Mason’s separated parents) and other key participants, including the director’s daughter Lorelei, joined Linklater and Coltrane once a year to film the story.
As Mason’s parents’ domestic arrangements change, as step-siblings enter the picture, as friends are made and shed, and as the world itself changes, the boy grows up before one’s eyes. More often than not, the dramatic changes in circumstances occur offscreen. What we see instead are revealing scenes of family relations rendered in that year’s shades of normal.
The result is a masterpiece of seemingly casual observation. Its vivid condensation of the progress of time and insightful contemplation of personal development should enthral young and old alike.
“What an astonishing achievement; what a beautiful movie… To leaf through its illuminated pages is to watch the child grow to manhood. Mason shoots up and goes gangly. His voice cracks and his heart is broken. And all around Mason, the other characters grow too… Pull back still further and we see that the world is changing too… History is constantly crawling around the corners of Linklater’s canvas… It’s lovingly assembled and acted with such grace and ease that it scarcely looks like acting at all.” — Xan Brooks, The Guardian