After watching this movie yesterday, I came across a post on the r/movies subreddit that asked "Who are your 3 Favorite Directors?". After putting some thought into it, I had to include Richard Linklater onto that list. I just find myself liking his stories so much from movies as diverse as Dazed and Confused to School of Rock to A Scanner Darkly. Every movie I've seen of his just "do it" for me.
I'm also happy to announce from the Examiner.com rooftop: Believe the hype, Boyhood is one of the best movies of this year. It may eve be one of the best movies in a good long while.
The story centers around Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) who begins the story in 2002 as a 6-year old just having fun with friends, doing his homework but not turning it in, and dealing with his older sister Samatha's taunts (Lorelei Linklater). His mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) struggles as a single working mother who returns to college to get her degree. The children's father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) is away in Alaska but does get to visit them from time to time. Over the next 12 years these characters grow and evolve, dealing with the various ups and downs that life offers.
The movie, as many know, was shot over that 12 year period that is shown in the film, and the young stars grow up right before our eyes. It is done masterfully by Linklater, and it makes these characters more relateable. The story as a whole is also very good, as it avoids cliches, tropes and "Hollywood" touches at every turn. For example, both parents are seen as human, eho have their own flashes of responsibility and confusion. It would have been very easy to portray Hawke's character as the wandering nomad/kind of loser throughout, because that's what Hollywood want you to expect. This movie is very real, and having shot it for so long with maintained excellence was remarkable.
The acting was also incredible, especially from the young cast, who roll with the changes of their lives and the productions itself. Arquette and Hawke also score as the parents. Even the smaller roles also turn in great performances.
Linklater's dedication to the project also shines through, he really let the story get told without a strong visual style. He truly crafts a great movie here. Deciding against even shots that showed the year was a great choice, as it shied away from a premise that could have turned into a gimmick..
Overall, Boyhood is a fantastic film that explores youth, love, aspirations, and existence with care and grace. It's main "message" may be that life is simply one liminal stage to the next, but as long as you enjoy the ride and remember the smaller memories, it's one hell of a ride.
Boyhood is playing in select theaters, find one near you if you can.