Boyhood, the new film from Richard Linklater (Before Midnight, Bernie, Dazed and Confused) is getting a lot of accolades because of the way it was shot, over the course of 12 years with the same cast. In it you actually watch a boy named Mason (and his sister) grow up, from being a typical a 5-year-old to his first day at college, along with all the trials and tribulations that get him there, as well as the expanding and contracting family that he is a part of. I was worried it might be just a gimmick but Boyhood is the ultimate coming of age flick and it mostly keeps you engaged through almost 3 hours.
Patricia Arquette plays his mother who has questionable taste in men, though her first husband and father of the kids is played by the always fun to watch Ethan Hawke. The film and the kids’ lives are much more fun when he is on camera, but I guess that is the point — he is the weekend guy, the one who doesn’t have to deal with them all the time and just gets to be the fun one. Mom marries a couple of times during the film and both are pretty bad choices, though they both seem good at the start. And older sis Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) is pretty much looking out for herself. There are a few very dramatic scenes, but mostly it is snapshots of a kid growing up in Texas, and trying his best to keep his head down.
At nearly 3 hours (2 hr. 45 min) there are definitely scenes that seem a bit long and I thought the first few years could have been compressed a bit for time, but at a certain point, the rhythm of the film hits you. It’s like life, ups and downs and times that stand out and those that seem inconsequential. And life goes on. Towards the end of the film, Mason meets a girl who suggests that you don’t seize the moment. The moment seizes you. It seems like that is what Linklater is saying with the film. You just have to let it take you along. You have to go in knowing there are no big dramatic moments, no special effects, and as far as plot it is pretty simple. But I would recommend it for most people. Just go with it.