Boyhood is one of the most moving experiences I’ve had with a film in a very long time. Just its premise alone is unique: it follows the life of a family shot for 12 years in real life, and even though the events are fictional, it becomes a memento of life for both the actors and the audience.
Every couple of minutes we move along in time, and you can see it reflected in the music (a great soundtrack that purposely features popular hits so we can easily locate ourselves chronologically), the technology, and most interestingly in the performers themselves. We see the two main kids, played by Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater literally pass from all the awkward stages between childhood to becoming teens, while their parents, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, deal with new marriages and more adult situations. The visual impact of the physical changes they all go through is at pairs with mesmerizing, cohesive and powerful performances, it feels almost as an intimate and close relationship with a group of people we see evolve in front of our eyes.
Directed by Richard Linklater in another breakthrough achievement in filmmaking, this project is incredibly successful accomplishing its ambitious premise. Considering all the elements that could have gone wrong (Ellar was 6 years old in the first scene and 17 in the last, he never backed up from filming), I can’t imagine this movie being made by someone with less commitment or a more distant real life relationship with his cast (he worked with Hawke in the Before series for over 10 years).
But besides all the already remarkable elements that make this film work, its jewels are in the recurrent elements of the director’s filmography: excellent dialogue, relaxed and honest performances, and the celebration of everyday small moments and minuteae. When you take in consideration that this is a 12 year long affair, the mundane becomes marvelous: we see the development of cell phones, pop culture (there’s a priceless Star Wars joke), and so many other elements of our lives that we don’t acknowledge unless put in front of us in sequential order. This film ultimately becomes a visceral experience that’s hard to shake off once it’s over in a wonderful way.
Boyhood is one of the most true to life cinema experiments I have ever seen, its effectiveness in both its plot and execution are nothing short of spectacular. It’s a film that its felt more than seen, with amazing performances and a relatability that goes beyond pop music and the Iphone. It is an experience, of just life itself into a multimedia time capsule.