Sunday, November 30, 2014


By D.E.Levine

A most unusual film is the only way to describe Boyhood.  Richard Linklater had an idea of filming a family relationship with the  focus on a little boy and his sister growing up over a period of 12 years.

Approaching Patricia Arquette to play Olivia, the mother and Ethan Hawke, to play Mason Sr., the father, Linklater cast his daughter Lorelei as the older sister Samantha and a newcomer, Ellar Coltrane, as the boy, Mason.

For 12 years this group got together and rehearsed and filmed scenes for the movie.  That's right, it was not only written into the script, but it was actually filmed two weeks a year for 12 consecutive years.  When Ellar was cast, he was 5 years old and the first time you see him in the film he's 6 years old.  At the end of the film he's really 18.

Who would be crazy enough to bankroll and independent production like this one?  Well, IFC, its distributor committed to the project and came through with a bankroll every year, enabling Linklater to keep shooting on film (which he chose because there is a non-wavering standard while non exists in the digital camera realm).

Beginning in 2002, Linklater gathered his four main actors for work on the script, some rehearsal and actual shooting..  As a result, there are realistic scenes skillfully woven together that show the growth of the characters and their changing relationships.  There are very smooth transitions, believable characters and scenes, and a film that works in part because it doesn't seem like a commercial film but rather like a home movie of real life.

During interviews Ms. Arquette, Mr. Hawke and Mr. Linklater said they could immerse themselves because in their real offscreen lives they were raising children and going through many of the same events -- i.e. divorce, marriage, geographical relocation, financial problems, sibling fights, etc.

There are lots of two shots, shots that Linklater is extremely fond of which show two characters walking, talking, interrelating and developing or exploring their relationship.

Each time I see Boyhood I notice different things that I haven't noticed before.  This is cinematic realism rather than simply film acting.  The story is so realistic and believable that the film never loses its grip on the audience.  As we watch the actors age naturally and their bodies change with growth we relate.  Linklater has filmed many films both for himself and for other writers, but Boyhood is truly a masterpiece not to be missed.