Boyhood 

An often breathtaking chronicle of the messy business of becoming a man

Boyhood
  • Boyhood

The audacious experiment Richard Linklater undertook with Boyhood—shooting the film in small increments over the course of 12 years, following Mason (Ellar Coltrane), the child of a struggling single mother (Patricia Arquette) and a sometimes flaky, occasionally absentee father (Ethan Hawke), from first grade through his high school graduation—has dominated coverage of the movie. And perhaps it's fair to ask, "How much does this remarkable achievement erase whatever flaws were carried on that journey?"

On first viewing, it was a bit harder to look past those flaws; the melodramatic material involving Mason's alcoholic stepfather felt too overwrought in its hurled dishes and screamed threats. Yet a second look allowed those moments to dissolve into the background of something sweeping and affecting, and not at all the universal child-is-father-to-the-man experience suggested by the title. Instead, Boyhood explores a very specific kind of unmoored youth—one where the time-specific touchstones of pop-culture, politics and technology become the organizing principle for memories of a life full of upheaval.

And yes, it's remarkable watching Coltrane—as well as Linklater's own daughter, Lorelei, as Mason's older sister Samantha—grow up over the course of a single 164-minute film, particularly because there was no way of knowing Coltrane would grow into a teenager with this much on-screen confidence and charisma. It's also hard to imagine a better way to track, for example, a boy's steps in sexual awareness from lingerie catalogues to Internet porn to his own first relationships.

Like so many of Linklater's loose-limbed comedies over the years, when it's on, Boyhood is really on—smart, clear-eyed and laugh-out-loud funny in a way that never feels like someone's stopping to deliver a zinger. Sure, there are a few clumsy plot threads, but Linklater moves past them to deliver an often breathtaking chronicle of the mere messy business of becoming a man.

BOYHOOD

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Boyhood
Rated R · 162 minutes · 2014
Staff Rating:
Official Site: www.boyhoodmovie.com
Director: Richard Linklater
Producer: Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring and John Sloss
Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater, Tamara Jolaine, Nick Krause, Jordan Howard and Evie Thompson
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What others are saying (14)

Portland Mercury Boys on Film Filmed over 12 years, Boyhood is like nothing you've ever seen. by Alison Hallett 07/23/2014
Chicago Reader Boyhood is the fatherhood of the manhood In Richard Linklater's Boyhood, people change—but do they ever really grow up? by Tal Rosenberg 07/18/2014
11 more reviews...
New Times San Luis Obispo 2014: The Year in Film Ken Korman's Top 10 list of personal favorites from the films that debuted in New Orleans during 2014. by Ken Korman 12/22/2014
Inlander Life Itself Boyhood, made over the course of a dozen years, is Richard Linklater's masterpiece by Marjorie Baumgarten 08/06/2014
Colorado Springs Independent Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' grows up in public There is a seemingly limitless stream of pure empathy that runs through Richard Linklater's transcendental Boyhood. by Daniel Barnes 08/13/2014
Memphis Flyer Boyhood Play for Real: Richard Linklater’s daring and complex bildungsroman. by Addison Engelking 07/31/2014
Boise Weekly Boy, Oh Boy, What a Film Now playing at The Flicks by George Prentice 08/06/2014
Creative Loafing Charlotte Boyhood: And a child shall lead them Rating: **** by Matt Brunson 08/01/2014
Charleston City Paper Director Richard Linklater makes movie history in Boyhood Boyhood was shot in 39 days, which is modest by Hollywood standards. by Dan Hudak 08/13/2014
Gambit Review: Boyhood Ken Korman says Richard Linklater’s 12-year project documenting a boy’s coming of age has universal appeal by Ken Korman 08/04/2014
New Times San Luis Obispo Review: Boyhood Ken Korman says Richard Linklater’s 12-year project documenting a boy’s coming of age has universal appeal by Ken Korman 08/04/2014
Gambit 2014: The Year in Film Ken Korman's Top 10 list of personal favorites from the films that debuted in New Orleans during 2014. by Ken Korman 12/22/2014

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