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Boyhood

Famed film director Alfred Hitchcock once said that drama is life with the dull bits cut out. But life has its own fascinating stream as time pushes individuals in many ways. Director Richard Linklater has made a virtue of examining time’s influence with his ‘Before’ trilogy of films. Those works were made over several years depicting a young couple. ‘Boyhood’ takes this motif to another level as it was made over a 12 year period with the same cast. Charting a young adolescent from aged 6 to 18, its’ total normality is what makes it fascinating viewing with dull bits few and far between.

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is a six year old child living with his divorced mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). He infrequently sees his father Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke) who tries to stay connected to his children. Over the years, marriages, school and the general routine of growing up transform Mason’s family and the world around them.

‘Boyhood’ is an engrossing document in parenting, ageing and dealing with life. It’s near three hour run-time is barely felt as the situations and characters are consistently engaging. We see Mason’s gradual development and unique world-view. Whether these are derived from his upbringing or was always within is for viewers to decide. How he handles the same situations from his younger years to his late-teens magnifies his growing maturity as well as those of his parents. It’s a bonus that ‘Boyhood’ isn’t just about Mason but others in his world which opens up several story possibilities.

It’s a testament to his cast’s commitment that Linklater was able to complete ‘Boyhood’. All give really solid performances, especially Arquette who is outstanding. Whilst the ‘piecemeal approach’ to the story-telling may be disorientating at times, it provides a compelling time-capsule to events affecting the character’s later years. As with most Linklater films, ‘Boyhood’ is a unique experience but one handled with his usual restrained care.

Somewhat similar to the British ‘7 Up’ documentaries, ‘Boyhood’ let’s you see the personal growth all at once. It’s a finely acted and interesting essay in life where the drama is from everyday situations. All involved should be commended in capturing a great snapshot of time working wonders without anyone realising it.

Rating out of 10: 9

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