Richard Linklater gives a fresh and innovative twist on the standard coming of age tale.
Leave it up to Richard Linklater to do something that no other director has ever done before. With his new film Boyhood, Linklater spent the past 12 years intermittently shooting this film to accurately capture the growth of a child on-screen. The film follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the age of 5 to 18 and showcases many aspects of Mason’s life as he makes his way from boyhood to manhood.
Just last year, I watched the third entry to the Before trilogy and was floored by how emotionally powerful it was. I immediately praised the film and labeled it as one of the best films of the year. Now, less than a year later, Linklater has blown me away yet again. Boyhood is not only a great film, but it is a unique film. Boyhood actually shows not just one child, but two children grow up on-camera. The experience is nothing short of remarkable and I was shocked when I learned that Linklater placed his own daughter in this film to showcase both sexes.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about this film because it is something that needs to be experienced for oneself. I will say that what Linklater captures here feels raw and real. There is never a dull moment and it feels like you are watching a real American family. The arguments that Samantha and Mason have with their parents feel believable and are never forced or phoned in. The events captured and the struggles these children face are ones that take place each and every day here in America.
The way Linklater captures the lives of Mason and Samantha is not only unique in terms of time frame in which it was shot, but also how he crafts the story. The film is about 3 hours long and yet Linklater somehow captures 12 years within this short run time. He uses music as well as various pop culture icons such as Harry Potter to move the story and help the audience recognize what year that they are in. If you were someone who grew up in the 1990’s or 2000’s, I can almost guarantee that you are going to feel an overwhelming amount of nostalgia when watching Boyhood.
Just like most of Linklater’s previous films, the dialogue in Boyhood doesn’t feel scripted. The conversation between all the characters flow naturally and only helps make the film feel authentic. Along with the incredible script and dialogue, I think one must applaud how the film is edited. Finding a way to successfully edit 12 years of a person life as well as a ton of footage for a 3 hour film is no easy task. The pacing feels just as natural as the characters, events, and dialogue, which is amazing because there is no huge jump from year to year within the film. It honestly just flows as if every single shot was made specifically for that moment in time. As I said already, its a remarkable experience.
Before giving my final thoughts, I must praise the performances in this film. We already know that anytime that Ethan Hawke works with Linklater that its a magically experience, but honestly its the kids here who are utterly incredible. I don’t know what it must feel like to see yourself grow-up on the big screen, but Ellar Coltrane knows now after seeing the finished product after that Sundance premiere. I can’t even say it was his acting, but rather him growing up for the world to see. It was such a unique experience and I do think that Lorelei Linklater was equally amazing even though she isn’t mentioned within the plot on any major outlet.
Clocking in at just under 3 hours, Boyhood is an incredibly film from start to finish. Richard Linklater again proves that he is a filmmaker that can take a simple story and make it truly special. Boyhood is the most unique coming of age tale that I have seen in years and feels as if you are watching reality as opposed to fiction. Thank you Richard Linklater for continuing to make films that have rich characters that make us feel emotion without feeling manipulated to do so. I can safely say that once again, Richard Linklater has made one of the best movies of the year for the second year in a row.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Boyhood is a 9.5 out of 10.