Director: Richard Linklater (2015)
This astonishingly ambitious and unique coming-of-age drama is another change of direction from the ever-surprising Texan director Linklater.
Filmed over twelve years using the same talented cast throughout, Boyhood creates great emotional weight through small domestic scenes.
We quickly invest in these characters, liking them, anticipating the directions their lives are taking and fearing for them. When drama erupts we don’t dwell on it but follow the consequences.
Years slip by as haircuts and shoe sizes change. Part of the fun is guessing how the actors will alter when time jumps forward again. Graciously allowing the audience the benefit of a brain, Linklater never flags up the changing of the years with captions but leaves us to work it out.
It’s eerily like being a parent on fast forward and I gazed in wonder at the truth of the lives on the screen.
There’s domestic abuse, alcoholism, first dates, marriages and eventually Olivia finds a peace of sorts as she braces herself for the future full of an empty nest.
Six-year-old Mason Jnr (Ellar Coltrane) and sparky older sister Samantha (director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater) live with single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette). The three form a compact family unit that expands and contracts as step-fathers and siblings come and go.
Much of the film’s understated, unassuming intelligent springs from the well of Coltrane’s even-tempered playing. Mason’s cautious approach to events is a coping mechanism which serves him well through some turbulent times.
Arquette is the emotional anchor; strong, anguished, fallible, continually trying to improve herself and forever making poor choices. It’s a beautifully honest performance as she attempts to marry the anxieties and sacrifice of motherhood
Equally excellent is Ethan Hawke as Mason’s dad who annoyingly and disconcertingly, never appears to age. He’s a well-meaning if absent father who pops by occasionally and spoils the kids rotten. It’s clear by his car of choice – a 1968 Pontiac GTO – that the film’s title applies equally to him.
If there’s one shame it’s due to the sometimes waning interest of the young actress in the project; so Samantha features less as time progresses.
It’s funny, engaging, uplifting and the finest film of 2014.
If I have to wait twelve years for a sequel, It will be worth it.