Richard Linekar brings to the screen a heart-warming passage of life story, bearing the trials, tribulations and growing pains through the eyes of a young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he matures from boyhood into manhood.
Beginning at the tender age of six, Mason and his family are forced to move to Houston so that his single mother (Patricia Arquette) can further her education with the aim of providing a better future for Mason and his spirited sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). As Mason paints over his and Samantha’s growth marks on a now redundant door frame, we get the feeling that Mason’s journey is just beginning.
Ethan Hawke is charmingly immature as Mason’s idle father who lacks any sense of founded responsibility. It is no surprise that later – when he is finally settled with a new family – he reflects on his former life in a somewhat typical father-to-son moment: “Your mother had every right to be pissed with me… perhaps if she had just been more patient then things would have worked out differently.”
Patricia Arquette is equally convincing as a beleaguered single mother, remaining utterly devoted to nurturing her children despite encountering two unhealthy marriages in the process.
In the meantime, we follow Mason as his self-discovery continues. The audience sits protectively by his side as he first encounters love, domestic violence and begins to form vast opinions of the world around him. Battling with his own unique take on the world, we witness proudly his creativity and love for photography. We can’t help but smile when he succeeds, cry when he is hurt and reflect as he contemplates.
What makes this film so unique is that Linekar began filming in 2002 and continued to shoot it using the same actors over 12 years, making this passage-of-time film even more authentic than you could possibly imagine. There are no awkward cast changes or synthetic make-up techniques to demonstrate the passing of time. What you experience is a real ageing process, and with it authentic life experiences. Sure, coming-of-age films are nothing novel, but what this one does achieve is a truthfulness that stays with you long after the movie has finished.
Despite its lengthy duration, the film by no means feels hurried or rushed. Boyhood is simply a wonderful, special film that will have you contemplating your own lifetime in a very fresh way. An easy five stars.
Boyhood is released nationwide on 11th July 2014.
Watch the trailer for Boyhood here: