Video: A boy named Mason

by Richard Gould

BOYHOOD is a major achievement, a film that rattles around your brain for weeks after seeing it, with insights and intimacies that just keep shining through the story’s deceptive commonplace. We’re with the Evans family—mother, two children and an absent father—as they’re buffeted along life’s ups and downs in small-town Texas: A move, divorce, a camping trip, first day at a new school, a ball game. But then something miraculous happens. The young children grow less young, the grownups get older, and writer-director Richard Linklater starts to reveal to us the great hidden actor on our lives, time, in all its awesome power. Shot over the course of a dozen years using the same actors—Ellar Coltrane from age 6, Lorelei Linklater, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke—Boyhood follows each through the little triumphs and falterings that come with a decision, bit of blind luck, or added grain of maturity as the kids begin to arrive at their new selves. Good stuff for a coming-of-age film, but expanded here to the span of a full childhood, it becomes epic. The simple act of going to an Astros game with dad or having a new romance hit the skids, seen through the lens of those years leading up to it, is wrenching. (As Coltrane and the director’s daughter grew to young adulthood, Linklater hewed more closely to the people they’d become—the creative risk and receptivity feels like real life itself.) Three hours sail by and, like the experience of a great novel, you come away feeling the Earth’s rotation underfoot.

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