Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is audacious in its ambition. To film a movie for 12 years involving the same cast and crew is something next to impossible. 12 years is a long time in one’s life. You can’t pen down a complete script that could actually be filmed over 12 years. Things would evolve as years go by, as something that is prevalent in the 2000s may not even be relevant now. That is just one of the many challenges faced by Linklater. Casting is another huge challenge for a project of this scale (not in terms of budget but the sheer time frame). How committed the cast and crew were for that long period is beyond my understanding.
Boyhood is a beautifully crafted time-lapse study of a boy named Mason, growing up from the age of 5 to 18. The movie beautifully captures Mason’s journey from his primary school to his first day in college. Ellar Coltrane played the role of Mason. Linklater would shoot every year with him and other supporting cast, who grow older beautifully around him. The director’s real life daughter plays Masson’s sister Samantha. Samantha’s reluctance to bond with her brother is conveyed through her subtle but effective expressions. Her discussion with her biological father on sexual precautions is conceived wonderfully by the director and emoted beautifully by the young actress. The other pivotal character is Mason’s mother played by Patricia Arquette. Her transition from a young mother to a middle aged woman is superb. Her character slowly grows on you and as the movie goes by, you urge her to take better decisions. Mason’s biological father played by Ethan Hawke is another crucial cog in the wheel. Though unreliable and irresponsible, he is charming as a guide to the young Mason and Samantha. From a nonchalant young divorced father, he too makes a wonderful transition to a caring and settled middle aged family man. Everyone plays their role perfectly and its Mason who takes the lion share of the cake. From being a cute child to a handsome college going teenager, he just boggles your mind with his ease of acting.
Apart from the long 12 year time lapse concept, Boyhood has soul and substance. Its unconventional and steers clear of the clichés of over the top Hollywood drama. The movie stays with you long after you leave the auditorium. The beauty of Boyhood lies in its reality and simplicity. Hats off Richard Linklater.