Shot over 12 years, Boyhood follows the life of a child growing up in Texas, along with the people around him.
The film plays out seemingly with no intent. There’s no crazy drama, there’s no razzle-dazzle, yet the scope of what is covered is truly epic. It’s absolutely riveting despite superficially going nowhere! It’s a film about life, growing up, growing old and all its trials and tribulations, and it nails it.
Boyhood is also careful not to focus solely on the main character, Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane). Every step of the way we get a feeling of life moving on in every character we meet. Everyone gets their own time line, however slight it may seem. There’s a constant sense that the characters are out living their lives off-screen despite whatever we’re seeing in the frame at the time. It’s almost like the story and script have spiralled out of control, and it’s beautiful. It’s chaotic and unpredictable, completely un-forced.
I have no idea how one goes about picking a child actor to play a role for 12 years, but Ellar Coltrane proves more than up to the task. He gives an incredible performance along with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette.
What sounds like a gimmick turns out to make for a brilliant, profound, contemplative film. Linklater cleverly makes use of his actors ageing to portray not the major milestones in life, but the bits in between. In doing so, he captures a crucial part of what it is to be alive.
A heartfelt work of true genius, Boyhood is probably one of the greatest films of the 21st century.