BOYHOOD written and directed by Richard Linklater, with Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Lorelei Linklater. A Mongrel Media release. 165 minutes. Opens Friday (July 18). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNNN
There have been other projects like Boyhood, produced over a long span of time - Michael Apted's Up documentaries, which revisit the same subjects every seven years, and Michael Winterbottom's Everyday, shot over half a decade with the same cast. But there has never been a movie like Boyhood.
Shooting over 12 years to capture the maturation of Texas kid Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from first grade through leaving for college, Richard Linklater has accomplished something unprecedented: he's captured what it was to live in that span of time.
Boyhood is long, packing in personal and political details as Mason's adolescence plays out against the transition from Bush II to Obama, but there isn't a wasted moment.
As stunning as it is to watch Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke move from their youthful 30s to their mid-40s over the course of the story as Mason's parents, it's even more incredible to watch Coltrane grow from unformed child into an actor of surprising complexity in the lead. Linklater's daughter Lorelei is also quite good as Mason's older sister, but she gets less time to develop her character.
This is the best American movie I've seen in years - and one of the very best movies about America ever made. If I see another movie more ambitious, more honest or more illuminating this year, I'll be shocked.