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Boyhood - Film Review

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by Melissa Duffy (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer based in Melbourne.
Published August 19th 2014
The highs and lows of growing up
Boyhood Ellar Coltrane
Boyhood - Starring Ellar Coltrane as Mason
Shot in 39 days over the course of 12 years, and with the same cast, director Richard Linklater's new film Boyhood is an innovative portrayal of typical family life and the usual perils associated with raising children into adulthood. It's a beautifully paced, gentle reminder of what we all loved and hated about growing up in which he balances both the memorable and mundane moments. And a show about nothing in particular, just as Seinfeld taught us, can be very successful because it's so relatable.

Boyhood is a fictional drama which moves forward like a time-lapse camera where a decade is reduced to just over 2 and half hours. We catch up with young Mason and his family about every 1-2 years, following him from elementary school up to his arrival at college where we are left with just a glimpse of the man he might become.

Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) are being raised by their struggling single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Add their every other weekend visiting dad, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) and they could be any family you might know.
Boyhood Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawke as Mason Sr. in Boyhood

"Life doesn't have bumpers", Mason Sr. warns his kids on one of their Saturday visits to the bowling alley, "and any strike you bowl with them doesn't count." But amidst several house moves, changing schools, sporadic visits with his dad and his mother's 2nd and 3rd unsuccessful marriages, Mason Jr. battles on through his school years, discovers girls, gets his first car, first job, experiences his first love and of course first heartache. But it is not only the children we see grow up as thankfully Mason's parents also benefit from the wisdom time can provide.

The film's timeline is subtly punctuated with changes in hairstyle, deepening of a voice, changing waistlines and ageing faces. Supported by a chronological order of events, such as a Harry Potter book launch, an election campaign (Obama's first) or release of the latest popular video game, it is set to a soundtrack of the past decade's most popular songs.

Boyhood Ellar Coltrane
Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr. growing up on screen

Where in other films a child ages with being replaced by a teenage look-alike, it is uniquely refreshing to see the real life ageing of these characters. And the audience's attachment to Mason is inevitable given we spend 165 minutes literally watching him grow up before our eyes, holding out for each new scene hoping he is ok as he tries to make sense of the world around him.

Boyhood is an exploration of time, how it passes, and shows how it can both punish and reward us if we let it.

Boyhood opens nationally on 4th September, 2014.
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Why? Unlike any movie you will see all year
When: From 4th September 2014
Where: At a cinema near you
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