by Barry Cox
DIR: Richard Linklater
CAST: Ellar Cotrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
UK RELEASE DATE: 11th July 2014
Winner of the ‘Golden Bear’ at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, Richard Linklater’s 18th film marks a groundbreaking achievement for the director. The idea and execution of using the same actors – only shooting for three three days a year over the course of a 12 year period – may have seemed too grandiose, yet it must be applauded for the audaciousness and ingenuity, as it something of a miracle that he has pulled it off.
Linklater has always been a filmmaker intrigued with time, with ‘Dazed and Confused’, the semi-autobiographical coming of age comedy, is set within a 24 hour period. Then there’s the ‘Before’ trilogy, with each film set 9 years apart, Linklater returns to the same characters, played by the same actors, to see what effect time has had on them.
In Boyhood, the passage of time is more obvious as we can without any doubt, see the changes on screen. Not only to Ellar Coltrane, but also with Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Lorelei Linklater. We can see the change in them physically, the greying of hair, the seeping of voices, etcetera. This style of filmmaking, almost treated like a memory of Mason’s, resonates like a memory of mine. Showcasing what we all go through as part of our evolution to becoming an adult.
The film isn’t as solely contained to its main protagonist as the title suggests, each of the above characters also experience growing pains, wether it be moving house, new husbands/wives or jobs, yet, what is paramount in Mason’s story, is the way everything that is said to him, or that effects him, effects us. We have all endured the “I only want what’s best for you” parental anecdotes, and we have all ignored the “You need to be more responsible” ones. Yet, these are the moments that allow the feelings of Mason to come to fruition, and how they affect him going forward.
What is so refreshing here, is the way Linklater is seemingly letting the camera be where it needs to, allowing the actors to be relaxed, showcasing their performances in manner that never feels contrived, but natural and honest. A meticulous approach to a simple coming-of-age story.
Ultimately, ‘Boyhood’ isn’t really so much about time, it’s about consciousness, it’s about choices, and it’s about the beauty of naivety. Linklater has pushed the boundaries of filmmaking without losing artistic integrity, with a stellar cast, and beautiful performance from Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood may just be the film of 2014.