Boyhood: an incredible but long journey [Review]


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Ellar Coltrane grows up on-screen as Mason, a reserved and curious boy, alongside Ethan Hawke, who plays his father.

Sean Curzon, Staff Writer

Written, directed and produced by Richard Linklater, “Boyhood” is a 12-year journey that follows Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows up from a 6-year-old boy to a college freshman. The film features great, convincing performances by a singular set of actors throughout all 12 years, but the three hours of realism grow tedious towards the end for audiences. For better or worse, the film reflects and captures the sometimes mundane and directionless experience of growing up.

Coltrane stars alongside Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke as Mason’s on-screen family. The acting is amazing; characters act like real people from start to finish. Hawke in particular does a good job capturing the growth of a man struggling to get his life together and become an exemplary father. Mason’s encounter with the recognizable markers of adolescence such as facial hair, acne and young love seems authentic because it was for Coltrane — the boy who grew up on-screen.

The film doesn’t have a traditional story arc, as characters flow in and out without clear resolution as people do in real life. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to watch. The nearly three-hour running time combined with the episodic nature of the film can make it a bit of a chore to sit through in a theater. It may be better to watch at home because it feels like you can just pick up where you left off the next day and not lose track of the narrative.

What makes the film are the little moments. When young Mason asks his dad if magic is real, Hawke’s character waxes prose about how he feels magic in a whale song. A confused Mason abruptly says he just wants to know whether elves are real or not. It’s really cute and captures the spirit of the film perfectly. “Boyhood” is about the little moments that shape our lives.