Most movies are shot on a schedule of several months. If the plot covers a large expanse of time, and the characters have to be depicted at various ages, make-up and different actors are used. Over the past decade, one director defied the normal schedule and filmed a movie with the same cast over a period of more than a decade. This enables the critically-acclaimed “Boyhood” to show the same actors as they age.
Set in Texas, “Boyhood” traces the life of Mason Jr. (played by Eller Coltrane). His development is profoundly impacted by the choices, some good and some bad, that his flawed, but loving divorced parents make. As the story begins, he is a young elementary school student who lives with his sister, Samantha (played by Lorelei Linklater), and mother, Olivia (played by Patricia Arquette). On some weekends, the kids stay with their dad, Mason Sr. (played by Ethan Hawke). Olivia decides to move to Houston to go to college so she can afford a better life for her family. In college, Olivia falls for one of her teachers. She marries him, and they move in with him and his kids. Perhaps because of the stresses of the blended family, her new husband becomes increasingly belligerent and more prone to drunken binges. Consequently this new marriage fails as well. Meanwhile, Mason Sr. meets another woman and starts a new family with her. As Mason Jr. gets older, he develops an interest in photography. Also, his mother finishes college, meets a new man and gets a job as a college instructor. We see how the choices teen-aged Mason Jr. and Samantha have to make are shaped by the paths taken by their parents and step-parents.
“Boyhood” is effectively written and directed by Richard Linklater. Because most of the movie was filmed throughout the 2000s, it does a great job bringing the audience back to that decade. One part of the film is set in 2008, and characters talk about movies from that year, as well as the presidential election.
Eller Coltrane is excellent in the lead role. He does strong work showing Mason at different times in his life because he played him at different times in his life. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are both in top form as his parents.
Although it is long, “Boyhood” is well-worth seeing.