Do Not Miss This One


An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            With Boyhood, Richard Linklater has written and directed a movie that is nothing less than brilliant in its concept and execution. Though his interest in the passage of time as structure was there in his three “Before” movies, nothing quite like this has ever been done before.
            Time is the essence of Linklater’s concept. This film follows a boy, his sister, and his parents from first grade through his high school graduation. After casting the movie, Linklater returned to Texas every year for twelve years with his chosen cast to film the life of this family over that time.
            Can you imagine the risks? What if Ellar Coltrane, cast as Mason when he was six years old, turned out to be wrong for the role as he grew? What if circumstance removed any one of the cast? Instead, Ellar Coltrane is perfect from age six to eighteen. A little boy who is a dreamer grows into a contemplative thinker with reticence and warm appeal. As he grows, Coltrane’s Mason is wrapped in the kind of sweet mystery of a young questioner exploring what kind of a person he wants to become. Watch the teacher whose admonitions fly right by Mason, the student with the soul of an artist.
            The passage of time here is fluid. No one has to tell us Mason and his sister are growing up or that his parents are heading toward middle age. It is happening as we watch twelve years of their lives compressed to several hours. That process alone is astonishing. Don’t look for a plot. Look instead for a family experiencing the ordinary transitions life hands them. This is life as it unfolds in real, not cinematic time.
            In the four leads and the large and fine supporting cast, not one seems to be an actor; no detail of their dress or behavior seems contrived. This could easily be the family next door to any one of us. In an inspired performance, Ethan Hawke’s Dad is a noisy, sometimes tactless divorced father who treasures his scheduled time with his kids and packs it tightly with the lessons he is sure they need. He offers such gifts as camping in natural beauty and watching Roger Clemens pitch in the Astrodome along, of course, with a fine lecture on achievement. Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter is just right as the pesky older sister.
            Patricia Arquette’s portrait of a wife who tries her best to deal with three difficult men and the demands of an expanding extended family while acquiring the credentials she needs to support them will stand as a classic. With varying degrees of loving support, firmness, and exasperation, she watches her children grow up - first kiss, first drink, first girlfriend, first breakup, first job, graduation.
            Richard Linklater worked for twelve years on an unprecedented concept with great patience, imagination, and understanding of his actors. Masterpiece is a word reserved for a film like this.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Boyhood
Word count : 498
Studio : IFC Productions
Running time : 2:46
Rating : R

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