Review: Boyhood

Shot over 11 years in a young man’s life, Boyhood leaves a lasting impression with its gorgeous performances, inspired casting and acute relatability.

Shot over 11 years in a young man’s life, Boyhood leaves a lasting impression with its gorgeous performances, inspired casting and acute relatability. Opening with six-year-old Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) magical insights on the lifecycle of wasps, director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset) touches base with the boy on 45 intermittent days across his childhood and adolescence. Teenage milestones like smokes and kisses are captured with an affectionate, loyal lens as Mason faces familial and personal problems for the first time. The darling of Sundance and one of the best in show at Berlin International Film Festival, the film is a feat of production in its scope and pace. Sustaining absolute rapture across its 164 minutes, the cast is impeccable. Linklater picked young players Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater (admittedly his daughter) at the ages of six and seven respectively. The trust placed in them pays off on-screen as the characters cycle through seasons with parents, step-parents, enemies, friends and extended family. Those categories aren’t always mutually exclusive, as Mason and Samantha grow to discover. Periodically the kids wilt and eventually blossom in the constant care of mum Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Devoted to a fault, Olivia is extremely empathetic in that she’s just as confused as her offspring. Here Linklater charmingly reassures that we’re all just winging it, but we’ll get there eventually. An instant coming-of-age classic, Boyhood joins the evergreen ranks of Stand by Me and Pretty in Pink (minus the candy coating). It’s a rare treat to see kids excel in an area of their own choosing. Boyhood proves this should not be a privilege but a birthright. Boyhood opens on September 4. Rated M

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