When director Richard Linklater decided to make “Boyhood,” shooting a bit of footage each year to authentically capture a young man growing from first through twelfth grade, he knew he had to keep things fresh if it was going to be interesting.
The fictional drama was made with the same group of actors over a 12-year period from 2002-2013 — takes a one-of-a-kind trip, at once epic and intimate, through the exhilaration of childhood, the seismic shifts of a modern family and the very passage of time.
The film tracks 6 year-old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) over life’s most radically fluctuating decade, through a familiar whirl of family moves, family controversies, faltering marriages, re-marriages, new schools, first loves, lost loves, good times, scary times and a constantly unfolding mix of heartbreak and wonder. But the results are unpredictable, as one moment braids into the next, entwining into a deeply personal experience of the incidents that shape us as we grow up and the ever-changing nature of our lives.
As the story begins, dreamy-eyed grade-schooler Mason faces upheaval: his devoted, struggling single mom Olivia (Patricia Arquette) has decided to move him and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) to Houston — just as their long-absent father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) returns from Alaska to re-enter their world. Thus begins life’s non-stop flux. Yet through a tide of parents and stepparents, girls, teachers and bosses, dangers, yearnings and creative passions, Mason emerges to head down his own road.
“You know, every year I had a year to think up the next part, based on everything that had gone before. So by year four, I’ve got three years that I can look at, that are edited, that we’ve been working on, and I can feel where it’s going and where it wants to go. I was stuck with this kind of architecture but yet within that the décor, the details were always being reworked, being found. That’s kind of how I work on any movie, there’s always a strong outline, a structure and then within that structure, a certain looseness to work with the actors,” he explained. “It makes you keep working—the night before, I want to have the great idea that keeps the scene interesting. I want to leave myself open to that.”
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