Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.
Boyhood is a cinematic experiment and experience like no other. Filming a fictional story about a boy, one month a year, from first grade through to twelfth is a plain crazy idea. That Richard Linklater actually pulled it off is a miracle of organisation, technical skill and foresight. That it’s such an exhilarating piece of filmmaking is just amazing.
Filming started in May 2002, and each subsequent year brings a smile to the face. You can’t help but think of your own experiences growing up - arguments with parents, your first drink, bullies at school, family roadtrips, broken hearts and everything in between. Plus if you’ve raised kids the trials and triumphs will be equally remembered.
Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason, has the unenviable task of carrying this movie, not an easy task when you’re going through so many life changes. He does a solid job, even though he seems to get a bit too cool for school near the end. But it’s phenomenal watching him grow-up; you forget you’re watching a piece of fiction. He’s supported by a great cast too - Linklater’s own daughter is hilarious as Mason’s sister, Patricia Arquette plays it straight and true as the troubled mother, but it’s Ethan Hawke who steals the show and is just a joy to watch as Mason’s dad.
Writer / director Linklater (Before Sunrise, School of Rock, Bernie) has already picked up best director at the Berlin Film Festival and should be due more awards for realising such an ambitious project, and injecting it with so much heart. While a lack of a definite ‘plot’ and sprawling nature may be a bit off-putting, don’t be scared as you’re in safe hands.
Linklater knows how to compile a stunning soundtrack too, just see Dazed and Confused, and he uses music to stir plenty of memories. From Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ which opens the film, to Britney Spears’ ‘Oops I Did It Again’ (seriously) and The Flaming Lips’ ‘Do You Realise?’ you’ll be humming along more than once.
What’s amazing that as the years tick by so does the 166-minute running time. Some might complain on the length but honestly you really don’t want it to finish. I can’t remember the last time I cried at a movie but Boyhood definitely got a few tears from me by the end.
A rare cinematic treat - a movie that makes you laugh, makes you cry, and leaves a smile on your face as you take a trip down memory lane over the past 12 years. It may be a bit sprawling for some but a great cast and a stunning soundtrack makes for a powerful movie that will stay with you.
Releases: 28th August 2014
Duration: 166 minutes
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Elijah Smith, Steven Chester Prince, Bonnie Cross, Marco Perella, Libby Villari, Jamie Howard, Andrew Villarreal
Director: Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Before Midnight, Before Sunset)
Ellar Coltrane, who plays the boy of the title, was 7 years old when the movie started filming and 18 when it finished.
Richard Linklater cast his daughter Lorelei Linklater as Samantha because she was always singing and dancing around the house and wanted to be in his movies. At about the third or fourth year of filming, she lost interest and asked for her character to be killed off. Linklater refused, saying it was too violent for what he was planning (Lorelei eventually regained her enthusiasm and continued with the project).
Shooting began in the summer of 2002 and ended in the fall of 2013.
Had Richard Linklater died during the 12-year shoot, Ethan Hawke would have taken over the directorial duties.
Richard Linklater and his crew got together annually to film Linklater's script about a boy who will eventually grow up into a college freshman. Linklater's method behind production was essentially to make several 10 to 15-minute short films over the course of 12 years, each depicting a year in the life of the boy, and then edit them together as a feature film.
The film began production as The Untitled 12 Year Project and then became titled 12 Years. When the film was finished, Richard Linklater changed the title to Boyhood, to avoid confusion with the similarly-titled, Academy Award-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013).
David Blackwell who played Liquor Store Clerk in director Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused (1993) and again here in Boyhood.
The guitar-playing street performer is Ellar Coltrane's real father, Bruce Salmon. He is a musician based in Austin, TX, where his cameo scene is set.