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With: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Directed by: Richard Linklater
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Running Time: 166
Date: 07/17/2014

Boyhood (2014)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Life Story

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Richard Linklater does something truly visionary with Boyhood. Over the course of 12 years, beginning in 2002, he filmed actor Ellar Coltrane each year, whenever scheduling allowed, adding to the script a bit at a time. The resulting movie is a true existential experience, a masterpiece. It's not driven by plot -- it can't return to pick up past plot threads -- but rather driven by life itself.

Mason (Coltrane) literally grows up on camera, from age 5 to age 18. During this time, he faces life's little triumphs and tragedies, starting with divorced parents. His mother (Patricia Arquette) re-marries, to a man who becomes increasingly drunk and abusive. He forces Mason to cut his long hair into a short crew cut, and eventually Mason, his mother, and his sister (Lorelei Linklater) must make their escape and start life anew. His divorced father (Ethan Hawke) visits every so often for ball games, camping, and haphazard advice. Mason encounters bullies, girls, and becomes interested in photography. The story ends as he goes off to college, meets his roommate and a new girl, and discovers that life is full of possibility.

Boyhood is far from a mere reality show. Linklater's thoughtful dialogue abounds throughout, and the characters are constantly thinking and asking questions about their lives. Certain memories are never recovered (the promise of a GTO), and losses are never regained (the fate of the step-siblings), but characters learn from mistakes and pain, and continue to move forward. The film has dozens of magical, memorable moments, from the early description of how wasps are made, to a special Beatles mix CD. It's nearly three hours long, but it moves by nearly as quickly as life does.

Despite winning most of the year-end awards, and being nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director), Boyhood won only one Oscar, for Patricia Arquette, for Best Supporting Actress.

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