Three hours is a long time to sit and watch one subject matter, but when it’s someone’s life, it feels like the blink of an eye. Boyhood is an American coming-of-age film shot over a period of twelve years. Directed and written by Richard Linklater, the film visits its characters at intervals of roughly a year, gathering the cast for a few days each year, showing how the main protagonist Mason Evans (Ellar Coltrane) grows from a chubby-cheeked six year old to a pretentious eighteen year old who has a habit of smirking whenever an adult speaks to him. The film also stars Patricia Arquette as Mason’s mother Olivia, Ethan Hawke as his father Mason Sr. and Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha.
One of the most interesting things that struck me about the film was its manipulation of an audience’s expectations. The main plot elements are slow-burning and easy to foresee. However this is not to be viewed as a downfall of the film, but rather one of its strengths. As a modern audience, we anticipate a sudden plot twist – we look for the car crash caused by texting while driving or a drunken night’s antics resulting in a lost limb. But, true to life, this never really happens in Boyhood.
And this is what makes this film such a masterpiece – its realism. The dialogue, the characters, the plot, the atmosphere are all just so honest and believable. Each scene screams authenticity, with each period being peppered with references to the events and technology of the time, which was brilliant foresight on the part of Linklater. The trip down nostalgia lane is reason enough to see this movie, with its flip phones and Gameboy Colours. Linklater has truly done a fantastic job. The film is a long one, running at 166 minutes, but it is so worth it. If nothing else though, I recommend seeing Boyhood for Ethan Hawke because, damn, he’s still got it.
Four and a half stars. Half a star off because Coltrane’s smirk is really annoying.