The life of a young man, Mason, from age 6 to age 18.
Boyhood is a special film in many ways, and is certainly one of the most ambitious projects in cinema history. Filmed over 12 years by Richard Linklater, it charts the growth of a 6 year old boy (Mason Jr.) through his childhood up until he turns 18 and begins college, using the same actors throughout. Shooting for a short period each year, Linklater had to rely on his young star growing into a capable actor and wanting to continue with the project, and he had to rely on the health of the older cast members holding out throughout the project. Thankfully in Ellar Coltrane, Linklater found a capable young actor willing to see the project through, and the end result is one of the most poignant and affecting coming of age stories ever put to screen.
The cast is anchored by established stars Patricia Arquette and regular Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke, with Linklater’s daughter Lorelei playing Mason Jr.s sister. All the performances are strong throughout and it’s fascinating to watch each character develop and evolve over the course of the film. Whilst the project is as ambitious as they come, the success of the film is in how small the stakes are, and the intimate focus is what really draws you in. It’s not without its flaws – the second alcoholic husband feels like an unnecessary tool to drive a conflict that had already been depicted, and the nature of the storytelling means that key moments in the characters lives aren’t shown on the screen. There is a lot I could relate to in the film, from the childish fighting between the siblings, and there’s a lot of smiles to be had with some of the foreshadowing (Star Wars) that works very well in hindsight.
This is a fantastic film, epic in scope, but moving in its intimacy. It’s not quite the masterpiece some critics are making out (I personally believe this is due to praise for the process as much as the end product), and it’s not as powerful as ‘Before Midnight‘, Linklater’s best film, but this is a fantastic coming of age story, developed and delivered in a stunningly unique way. Highly recommended.
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke