Linklater's Glorious Boyhood Captures Life in Bloom

Linklater's Glorious <i>Boyhood</i> Captures Life in Bloom
IFC Films
A boy and his noggin.

The business of childhood is the business of waiting: waiting for Christmas, waiting for school to let out, waiting to be old enough to stay up past nine. No other movie I can think of captures the wistfulness of those days full of waiting than Richard Linklater's Boyhood, an ambitious and clever undertaking that could easily have turned into a filmmaking disaster. Instead, Linklater ends up with a quiet stunner of a movie that yields to time rather than try to bend it to its will. Boyhood had the curious effect of making me feel lost, uneasy, a little alone in the inexorable march forward — and also totally, emphatically alive.

See also: Our interview with Richard Linklater about Boyhood

Linklater began filming Boyhood in the summer of 2002, planning to follow one character from age 6 to 18: As Mason, a small-town Texas kid being raised by a single mom, Linklater cast an unknown 7-year-old named Ellar Coltrane, a thoughtful-looking lad with hair that keeps skewing in the direction of a punky Dennis the Menace cowlick. Linklater assembled his cast and crew for a few weeks every year — you could call it a 12-year shoot — tracing Mason's story through childhood and adolescence, culminating in his first day at college. He had no idea what kind of a kid, or man, Coltrane would turn out to be: a gawky preteen or one of those rare confident, princely ones? At what point would Coltrane's voice change? How tall would he get?

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IFC Center

323 Sixth Ave.
New York, NY 10014

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Greenwich Village

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

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New York, NY 10023

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: West 60s

BAM Rose Cinemas

30 Lafayette Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Fort Greene


Directed by Richard Linklater
IFC Films
Opens July 11
IFC Center, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, and BAMcinématek

Over the course of Boyhood's nearly three hours, Mason grows up before our eyes, in what can feel something like real time. One minute he's giggling with a friend over the brassiere pages of a mail-order catalogue. (Notably, it's from Spiegel or JCPenney, not Victoria's Secret, a reminder of the time when boys felt exceedingly fortunate to see live models in those workaday, white Cross Your Heart numbers.) The next, he's tangled in conversation with the high school girlfriend (Zoe Graham) who's just broken up with him, trying to understand exactly what he did wrong, unable to see that he did nothing wrong. He's getting his first taste, and surely not his last, of the careless barbarism of love. Mason's confused suffering has a you-are-there immediacy. In moments like these, he doesn't seem like a fictional character; he feels like a refracted version of us.

The people around Mason change, too: His mother (Patricia Arquette) becomes slightly thicker around the middle, though her snaggletooth, vaguely careworn smile simultaneously becomes more radiant. His sometime-absentee father (Ethan Hawke) doesn't change much physically, though bits of his boyishly optimistic aura fall away through the years. His older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director's daughter), starts out as a bossy mite — an enthusiastic Britney Spears impersonator — and grows into a self-possessed young woman wending her way toward the end of college and the beginning of real adulthood. As kids, Mason and Samantha observe the behavior of their separated parents like junior scientists of humanity: At one point their dad drops them off after an outing (they go bowling and eat forbidden food), and they watch from an upstairs window as their parents argue outside. "Think he'll spend the night?" Mason asks hopefully. They barely know what "spending the night" means, but they know enough to see it as a way of securing the life they want, or recementing the life they had before their parents split up. It's a kids-eye-view of marriage so sharp it cuts through you.

Linklater recently told The New York Times that as he was making the film, "People would ask, 'So what happens?' " He'd have to answer, "Not much." That's true, and it's not. Working with two cinematographers, Lee Daniel and Shane F. Kelly, and editor Sandra Adair, Linklater connects the experiences of Mason's childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood so seamlessly that we barely notice the joins. We see Mason and a bunch of other kids eagerly queuing up, in costume, for a new Harry Potter book, the kind of generation-specific cultural event that the senior citizens of 2072 will remember with great fondness. Later, his mom remarries, a bullying drunk (the first of two) who forces Mason to get a military-style buzz cut, the sort of thing that's adorable on kids younger than 6 but just looks wrong on a rapidly sprouting 9-year-old. Before we know it — and before his parents know it, because that's just how it goes — Mason has become a lanky, serious kid with an artistic bent and an ear gauge. He's given to philosophical ramblings about not wanting to be a slave to a computer or cellphone screen.

By this point, the still-boyish (and rather tall) Coltrane has settled so deeply into the role of Mason that it hardly seems like a role at all. You're likely to forget you're watching an actor, which is the whole point. Coltrane's Mason is a quiet and observant young man, and because we've been watching him all this time, we know how he got there. In one of the movie's simplest and most affecting moments, Linklater's camera takes the measure of a dead bird splayed on the ground. We're seeing it through the very young Mason's eyes, and even if his curiosity is partly a snakes-and-snails-and — puppy dog's tails sort of thing, it also suggests an awareness that nothing lasts forever — not even childhood, which seems to stretch on forever when you're in the middle of it.

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Boyhood directed by Richard Linklater and stars Ellar Coltrane as the son (Mason), Patricia Arquette the mother, Ethan Hawke the father and a couple of some unknown actors. The film is about a little boy, growing up experiencing adolescence and everything comes along with it. Yes we see that a lot of times before but this movie has something unique that no other family movie manage to make me feel like this. What makes this film incredibly special is the filmmaking technique. The filming began in the summer of 2002 with the young main character and filmed yearly all the way until last year with the same actors. So boyhood took 12 years to be done and we actually get to see through the eyes of Mason who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips, family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all that moments make me think my own childhood journey and i believe it's impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about your family about your journey. I mean the massage of the film really hits you. While i was watching this film i was thinking abou the performances of the actors. They were outstanding. These performances do not feel like performances, they feel very much just in the moment, the dialogue doesn't feel like a movie dialogue, it just feel like people are talking. The real drama of this film comes from just how real it feels and the message behind it is just a series of milestones and once you hit them you are just on the next one. I'm sure that a lot of people are going to come out and say this movie isn't really that special and if it wasn't made over the course in 12 years well then it would be just some boring movie when nothing happens. I can understand that because nothing actually happened, it's a lot of really really interesting conversations between the actors and very very cool filmmaking techniques. Okay it's not that type of movie you are going to see again because is a very long movie, about 2 hours and 45 minutes and it's not the kind of movie that you poppin at a party and say hey guys we 're gonna watch this movie because is just not that type of film. Overall boyhood is a very very different and unique movie and i can't even imagine the idea of physically filming a movie for 12 years, that's crazy, definitely should be seen. So i'm gonna give boyhood 4 stars and if you guys saw this movie what did you think about it?


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