*** and 1/2 out of ****
Richard Linklater's character study Boyhood was shot little by little over a period of eleven years, beginning in May of 2002 and ending in October 2013. We see the cast age and, most dramatically, we see actor Ellar Coltrane grow up before our very eyes, aging from seven to 19.
Coltrane plays Mason and we meet him as a little boy with divorced parents, living with his stressed out mom (Patricia Arquette) and seeing his flaky dad (Ethan Hawke) on weekends. Of course, Mason is always fighting with his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Throughout the years, the boy deals with a few drunken step-fathers, sees his own father become more responsible, and discovers girls.
This is a bold experiment from Linklater (Dazed & Confused, School of Rock), but does it work as drama? Yes, it does. The performances are incredible. Arquette and Hawke do fine work and Coltrane really carries the film. I saw glimpses of my childhood and teenage years in the movie, so for me, it has many moments of truth. There are a few moments that feel like they are going to bend toward heavy melodrama but they never do.
Boyhood plays like snapshots of people and events that shape a person's life as they make their way from childhood to adulthood.