Richard Linklater has made the most unusual and supremely awesome family drama with Boyhood. The word patience comes to mind when hearing about the 12-year effort it took to film the Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette-starring movie. And no, this is not something that took 12 years to get going. Boyhood was filmed a couple of weeks at a time for 12 years.
Boyhood follows the, well, boyhood of Mason.
He’s played by Ellar Coltrane from six to eighteen. Over the course of the film, we catch up with Mason for an in depth visit during each year as he literally grows up before our eyes. Linklater makes all the right choices along the way -- from the music he uses to reflect the time, to the discussions of our culture at that moment to even the politics of the day (like the first election of Barack Obama, seen from the view of a small Texas town).
There had to be massive amounts of footage that Linklater had to go through, but the strength of this film is that his script was solid from the beginning. Sure, it must have changed slightly as the times changed and as his actor (and actresses) changed. But for the most part, Boyhood plays like a film that could not have been better thoughtout -- which, if you think about it, is all the more an amazing accomplishment for the filmmaker.
Mason’s parents are divorced. He lives with mom (Arquette) and, as the film begins, dad (Hawke) has moved back to be near Mason and his sister Samantha (played by Linklater’s real daughter over 12 years, Lorelei). And from there, we follow this family on its journey that we could not put better than what was told to us in our Ethan Hawke interview: this is a “real story about a real family.”
That’s because over the course of 12 years, Linklater, Hawke, Arquette, Coltrane and Linklater were a family. They were a film family and you would be hard-pressed to find a film that captured it better and more astutely than one that literally followed these people over such a large swath of time.
We also think that Boyhood is a testament to believing in your artistry and sticking to your guns. There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong over a 12-year shoot. Coltrane could have decided he didn’t want to act anymore. The company behind it, IFC, could have gone under as so many independent movie companies do. That is why Boyhood is also a study in the idea that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. But, we add… what if you’re both? And in this case with Boyhood, Linklater and his onscreen family are truly that and more.
Our Boyhood review believes that the film is one of the more important movies to be released this year. Will we likely see something like this again? Probably not. It takes a special filmmaker and a gifted and committed cast with a whole lot of, dare we say it again… patience.
And in Hollywood, that is not a word that is embodied too often, if at all.