Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ Pulls Off Something Never Done Before in Film

After the recent releases of the fourth Transformers film and the Melissa McCarthy bomb Tammy, moviegoers will actually have some choices that have done well with the critics coming to theaters this weekend with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Richard Linklater’s highly anticipated Boyhood.

Boyhood has an impressive 100 percent Fresh rating from reviews aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes. The movie, which follows new actor Ellar Coltrane over the course of 12 years as he literally grows up in front of the camera, was an experiment that has paid off for Linklater as critics are heaping adoration on this study of childhood, adolescence, and family. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke star as the young character Mason’s parents, and Linklater’s daughter Lorelei plays the younger sister.

The movie was shot in 39 days spread out over the course of 12 years, following the fictional broken family as the kids are shuttled around Texas with their mother and a string of loser husbands while receiving visits from their wandering artist father. Obviously there were a lot of risks to this method, but the stars aligned for Linklater’s film. Coltrane aged into an attractive teenager and a decent actor. Arquette and Hawke stayed involved with the project, which critics say is a fascinating look at their own maturation as actors. No one died or dropped out of the film or otherwise changed in a way that wouldn’t be cohesive with the story.

The movie is not just being called a great film, but truly unique. Normally a feature film would use three different actors to portray the Mason character at the different times in his life, or a documentary would be the format used to look at a particular person or community over the course of so many years. Reviews are peppered with phrases like “a unique work in American cinema” (The Hollywood Reporter); “an unprecedented achievement in fictional storytelling” (IndieWire); and “there hasn’t been a film like this one, and there probably never will” (The Telegraph).