There are just some films that you are going to remember forever. They can be perfectly constructed, wonderfully unique or even completely change how you look at cinema. After finally seeing it for a second time, I can finally confirm with a lot of thought that Boyhood is a masterpiece. Despite its title, Boyhood is a universal film that is difficult not to fall in love with. It could just have easily been called Parenthood or Sisterhood as the film does great justice to all of its main characters, and while the film is incredibly realistic, there is something uniquely cinematic about it.
Boyhood follows the growth of one man from boyhood to adulthood over the course of twelve years. What makes this film unique, though, is that director Richard Linklater (who directed one of the greatest depictions of romance with the Before trilogy) actually shot the film over a course of twelve years with the same cast and crew. It would be easy to label this monumental undertaking as a gimmick, but it’s not as Linklater finds a way to make this a film filled with interesting parts that lead to an even greater whole.
Boyhood is a perfect combination of the scrapbooking of American culture during the aughts and the life philosophizing that worked so well in the Before trilogy. A lot of this has to do with the editing of the film, which knows just the right amount of ingredients needed to make this film really sparkle while also jumping so seamlessly through time that you won’t even notice some of the time jumps. Whether it’s the moments of humor (which will make you smile while ringing completely true) or the tear-jerking nature of the film (do to the fact that it is so hard not to notice a little bit of your own life and struggles within these characters) every single element of this film just works. Even the errors that arise due to the changing nature of the world during the process of making this film (including a moment where Roger Clemens is treated like a hero and another in which the future of Star Wars beyond Episode Six is deemed impossible) just add to the uniqueness of the film.
However, this film wouldn’t be anything without its incredible cast. Patricia Arquette is the hero of the film. She is the source of strength that this film can reliably go back to for good material, and her performance leads to a powerful final monologue that is hard to forget. Meanwhile, Ethan Hawke makes a case for his collaboration with Richard Linklater as being one of the best in cinematic history. He just really understands what Linklater wants out of him. Ellar Coltrane (who slowly adapts into the perfect actor for Linklater’s writing style over the course of the film) and Lorelei Linklater (who is quite the scene stealer) also deliver great performances. Linklater is even able to get relative nobodies from the supporting cast to deliver performances that appear to come from a seasoned veteran (especially from Marco Perella as one of Patricia Arquette’s many husbands over the years).
As great as the Before Trilogy is, Boyhood is Richard Linklater’s magnum opus. It was twelve years in the making, but people will be talking about this film for however long film exists.