Richard Linklater has simply made such a brilliant film in 'Boyhood.' When you look at his repertoire, you see alright films like 'Dazed and Confisued' and 'School of Rock.' You also see critically acclaimed films such as his 'Before...' series. 'Boyhood' is on another level compared to all his previous work and may be the best thing he will ever be apart of. Filmed over a 12 year stretch, with the same actors, Linklater has crafted a film that's as fantastic as it is ambitious.
'Boyhood' follows the story of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), and to a lesser extent his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), their mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and on some weekend visits, their father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). We meet Mason when he is six years old living in Texas. The family moves to Houston so that Olivia can complete graduate studies and get a job. Around that time, Mason Sr. takes the kids bowling and vows to spend more time with them going forward. Thus begins the journey of growing up, experiencing life and all the emotions, twists and turns that comes with it.
This is a film that's kind of hard to review, because I don't want to give anything away for those who haven't seen it yet. There's spoiling story, but there's also spoiling an experience someone could have watching a film. The story is engrossing and grand. You're not just watching the story of Mason Evans Jr. growing up, you're growing up with Mason Evans Jr. Played fantastically throughout, even as a younger child, by Ellar Coltrane. The support from Lorelei Linklater and Patricia Arquette is perfect. The scenes with Ethan Hawke are fantastic too and really capture the way a father bonds with his kids. The emotion that 'Boyhood' evokes is nothing short of astounding. The laughs are there, the seriousness wells up and heartbreaking moments hit you hard. The cinematography displayed throughout is a driving point of this for me. The sweeping landscapes of rural Texas, the bustling city shots or even just a creek in which they're fishing. Everything is just beautiful to look at throughout this film. The way that 'Boyhood' was made is also a pretty monumental thing, that has never really been done before. Taking 12 years to film a movie, so that you can use the same actors as they grow up. That way the audience can really connect and invest in them is a pretty genius, and one of a kind way, of making a film. There also wasn't a set script throughout this film. Linklater had a basic outline and the ending ready, but chose to incorporate real life experiences of the actors into the film itself, giving it even more of that authentic feel you feel while watching.
This review isn't as encompassing as what I would normally do, but rest assured, 'Boyhood' is truly one of the best films of 2014. It's garnered universal acclaim from all outlets and rightfully so. Richard Linklater's ambitious dream finally came to fruition after 12 years of filming. The phenomenal story of a boy and his family growing up, living life, going through triumphs and hardships. Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are outstanding throughout. It's one of the best films you'll see all year and probably this decade. 'Boyhood' deserves any and all awards it wins in the coming months.