Boyhood movie
Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke & Lorelei Linklater
In Cinemas July 11th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Boyhood is more than a film, it is an experience.  This film is like no other in its affectivity.  It is an emotional journey to see Ellar Coltrane grow from boy to man over the course of twelve years.  But let’s get this straight – This is no Truman Show.  This is something much deeper.

Boyhood follows the life of a young boy named Mason (Coltrane) from age 5 to 18.  What is unique about this film is that it was actually developed and filmed over the course of twelve years, following the same actors in their journeys as their characters, with the actors’ real life developments influencing the direction of the film.

The technicalities of filming such an epic are alone an essay’s worth of writing.  Director Richard Linklater along with the cast and crew would annually convene for a few days in order to film scenes for the movie.  As the young actors Ellar Coltrane (Mason) and Lorelei Linklater (Samantha, and real life daughter of Richard) grew up, Linklater would fit their character personas around their emerging identities.

The film encompasses many of Linklater’s ideas of boyhood.  For many years, he had wanted to tell the story of coming-of-age, but as the elements spread across many ages, he couldn’t feasibly figure out how to make it cinematically possible.  As he sat down to begin writing the novel he thought this story must develop into, he had the idea to draw out the making of this film over twelve years, to capture the essence of each idea from an honest perspective.  The result is phenomenal and tells stories that perhaps Linklater himself didn’t even realize he was telling at the time.

Central to the film is Mason’s evolution from boy to man.  His parents are also evolving.  Patricia Arquette delivers her finest performance to date as Mason’s mother as she struggles through her own developmental cycle as a parent and a self-sufficient woman.  Mason’s sister Samantha is also coming into her own as she grows from girl to woman.  Then there is Mason’s father played brilliantly by Ethan Hawke who has some of the best scenes and evolution of the entire film.  Mason Jr. wasn’t the only one growing from boy to man.

The characters are not the only ones affected by the twelve years of time passing.  A nod to social and political evolution is prominent throughout this film, with current events that are no longer current being on showcase in each year of Mason’s development.  The Iraq war, Sarah Palin, Obama, Facetime are merely a few of the nods to politics and technology.

The real technological evolution took place behind the scenes as Richard Linklater began filming Boyhood on 35mm film, which became increasingly difficult to obtain and develop as the years passed and as film has become a rarity.  Some of his stock evolved over the years, but through his keen eye for detail, the mood and visual style of the film remain steady throughout.

Much like with technological obstacles, script and editing obstacles were easily overcome by Linklater.  After all, he had a year to dwell on his film between shoots.  The process was to film for a few days, edit, and then work on ideas for a year until the next shooting day.  He would give his star Ellar Coltrane a brief on what would be shot the following year, and ask Ellar to take notes of his similar personal experiences if they were to happen to him before being shot on film.  This method brings a plethora of realism to this film, almost as if there were scenes of improvisation.

Boyhood is a game-changing film. Kudos to director Richard Linklater for creating this cinematic experience.

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