When you think back to _Slackers_ you remember how easy that movie flowed. How comfortably it drifted. Just go with it. Let it happen, live in the moment. Then there's the _Before trilogy_ which again seemed effortless and free-flowing yet constructed with so much care that you knew this filmmaker was not only unusual, but acutely human. That he cherished experience and learning and submitted to the eternal present, surrendering to and tinkering with fate, while tending to the perpetually immediate situation with enormous sensitivity and regard.
But nothing could prepare you for _Boyhood_. You can't overstate the fact that it's a grand free-flowing time-lapse experiment and that most of the actors--no not actors, not performers--most of the people were cast when the central figure was a very young boy, looking up at the sky, having no idea how his future would unfold. The world might be a stage but Richard Linkater is not omnipotent. As a definitive work-in-progress, a daring collaboration with fate and destiny, who could really know how the boy's script was going to turn out, and how the wide array of voices in his life would shape him as he stumbles toward adulthood? Only a true sure-footed and fluid filmmaker, an authentic disarming innovator could raise this baby with as much beauty and wisdom. Dazed and Confused? Make room for Clear and Composed.
Hear the lamb howl. _Boyhood_ is a daring experimental wolf wrapped in conventional wool. Needing to be shot chronologically, the linear time-line and 12-year shooting schedule called for a fresh and original approach to crafting a movie. If something went wrong during the many long gaps in production, say, if an actor suddenly became unavailable, or some drastic circumstance threatened to break the continuity of the boy and his family's life, there's no going back to re-shoot. No relying on special effects make-up or casting young and old versions of a character. The faith invested in this concept and the delicate handling of it's execution is a marvel to witness, blooming before our eyes.
Patricia Arquette was growing up too. Aging faster than Ellar Coltrane, it appeared. This movie defies breaking up into a series of disjointed, episodic fragments. And Arquette stitches together an admirable and dedicated performance as the ubiquitous maternal defender who struggles to keep herself and her family from falling apart. Because of the blur between fiction and reality, between drama and documentary, and because of the way Linklater is able to nurture the process and allow his films to take on a life of their own, Arquette may not be acting on set any more than she has to in real life. A slight adjustment in perspective and this movie could have been called _Motherhood_.
Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' is a brilliant film about life and the struggle to find meaning. It follows a family through a twelve year period as they endure situations and tackle obstacles together. The main technical aspect of the film is a very controversial and memorable one as Linklater hired his main actors and continued to follow them for twelve years thus adding to the realism of the feature adding much poignancy to the themes. The overall direction can be considered very naturalistic and simple but there are wonderful shots of natural environments such as the beautiful river that Mason and his father visit representing the beauty of life whilst underlining the insignificance of man's role in the world.
The screenplay is a touching study of the meaning of life. There is a great balance of humour and heart-rending dialogue throughout the film. At 165 minutes, the movie is a long one but the pacing was perfect and captivating that I hardly noted the film's duration. The characters each have profound dialogue in which they discuss the journey of which they (and we) are going through and question the reasoning of difficult events.
The performances in 'Boyhood' are exceptional. Mason (Ellar Coltrane) starts off as relatively inexperienced and under-developed but matures as the film progresses adding substance to his character's arch. This performance is supported by the excellent Patricia Arquette who plays the mother. Arquette manages to portray the mother perfectly as she undergoes traumatic events that shape her family's life.
Overall, I feel that 'Boyhood' is a technically brilliant achievement in film-making. Not only is the process fascinating in terms of the methods used to create the film but it is also a fascinating investigation into time.