**** out of 4 stars
After twelve years in the making, director Richard Linklater’s coming of age film finally entered theaters this past weekend. After a summer of ultra-budget films(most of which have been disappointing), it’s interesting how Boyhood brings enough pow to rise above all of them. Boyhood, Linklater’s follow up to his masterful Before Midnight, is truly the best film I’ve seen all year, and is unlike any film in the history of cinema. We shouldn’t be surprised. Linklater, a true artistic rebel in modern cinema, has been releasing gem after gem since his 1991 debut, Slacker. Here is a director who refuses to go with the conventional, crafting stories and characters that stay in audience’s memory. And it’s a true gift that Boyhood is his most brilliant film yet.
For those out there who know nothing about the story, Richard Linklater spent twelve years making this film about a boy named Mason, filming the actor(Ellar Coltrane)as he ages from 5 to 18, going through the beats of youth. What one-ups this creative stunt, is that we also watch the same supporting cast grow with him. That’s right, all of the actors stuck it out with Linklater’s vision, making this material feel truly lived in. It’s also a treat to those who recognize other young versions of actors, in some of the film’s smaller roles. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play the divorced parents, and Linklater’s own daughter, played by Lorelei Linklater, plays Mason’s sister. Hawke and Arguette are at their best yet, but it must be said that Lorelei has a hell of a future in the acting world if she stays on this path. But the show belongs to Mason, who we will no doubt connect with the young expriences he goes through. We see him deal with separated parents, his mom’s bad choices in men, pursuing a career in photography, going with the school’s hot girl, and young adulthood, as he leaves for college in the film’s final, striking third. His performance will stand out for, well, probably forever.
It’s rare that you get the feeling that this film gives you as you watch it. At nearly three hours, Linklater’s vision puts you in the depth of creative nirvana. If you are looking to see the power of what personal, experimental filmmaking can do to you, don’t hesitate and see this right away. We still have until December, but it will take a lot for other films coming out this fall circuit to match this baby. I say bring it on.