Richard Linklater is what used to be known, in the classic days of Hollywood, as a maverick director. Which pretty much means that you never know what to expect from him next. From his assured debut with Dazed and Confused, through School of Rock and the various animated experiments he’s done, he’s kept his viewing public well and truly unbalanced. But who could have anticipated Boyhood?

The USP of this movie is that Linklater filmed his scenes over a twelve year period, using the same cast. The boy of the title is Mason (Ellar Coltrane). When we first meet him he’s a six year old, desperately trying to come to terms with the breakup of his parent’s marriage. Mom, is Patricia Arquette, an independent woman who longs for a career but is hampered by her unerring ability to choose the wrong man every time. Dad is Ethan Hawke, wild, feckless but incredibly likeable. And Mason’s sister is Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s own daughter). Storywise, what we get is a series of episodic vignettes that follows Mason and his extended family across the years, seeing everyone literally age 12 years in the process. The result is as delicious and it is extraordinarily magical. How many times have we seen three different kids brought in to represent one character? And how often have we seen actors buried under layers of latex to indicate the passing years.

Boyhood is a triumphant film, one that elicits genuine emotions, following as it does the (quite literal) rites of passage as a boy passes from childhood into manhood. And what a superbly eclectic soundtrack! After a recent drought in the cinema, this comes as a much needed drink of cool, refreshing water. Absolutely unmissable.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

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