When inquired about the movie that changed his life, Mr. Linklater cited Martin Scorsese's masterpiece "Raging Bull." Masterpieces, as we know, are few and far between. Some directors are lucky to have a box office success, much less something deemed worthy enough to be put in the category of films such as "The Godfather," Schindler's List," "Rashomon" and "Gone with the Wind," to name only a few.
It's been a long time coming but Mr. Linklater's latest film, an almost three hour epic filmed over the course of twelve years, is the most deserving piece of cinema to be granted the title of "a masterpiece" in the last ten years.
Told through a series of surprisingly uneventful episodes, "Boyhood" follows Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from the age 6 to the age of 18, chronicling not only his natural growth before the camera but his mother (Patricia Arquette), his father (Ethan Hawke) and his sister's (played by Linklater's real daughter) subsequent development.
As with most of Linklater's work, the film is dialogue driven and plotless. Never have these two forms been put to greater use. His minimal camera movements and lack of special effects add remarkable authenticity to an already free-flowing authentic film.
A story about boyhood, yes. A story about growing up and coming of age, yes. Surprisingly, also a story heavily centered on parenthood. By choosing to shoot it over the course of twelve years, we get realism at a documentary level in a fictional world. Linklater is a master when it comes to film form and finding new ways to tell otherwise ordinary stories and his dedication to his craft is evident 23 years after his dynamic directorial debut "Slacker."
Brimming with humor and sprinkled with moments of pathos that leave you breathless, "Boyhood" rekindles old feelings that have been buried from not only our childhood, but our current lives.
Patricia Arquette fills the screen with such vulnerability that it's a task in itself to stay in your seat and not want to run and embrace her for all she gives her family. Ethan Hawke riddles us with humor in ordinary circumstances. It is, of course Ellar Coltrane, that we identify with and admire. To grow up literally before our eyes in the span of 166 minutes, the connection formed between character/actor and audience is one that has never been experienced and probably never will be again.
It would be surprising if this film didn't give Mr. Linklater his due as director come Oscar season. A greater shame would be missing out on this once in a lifetime emotional photograph of life in action.
"Boyhood" is currently in limited release.