Film, Drama
5 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)

Looking at it one way, ‘Boyhood’ is a spectacularly cheap way of saving on actors’ salaries. To capture his rambling yet absorbing Texas family drama, director Richard Linklater (‘Before Midnight’) agreed with several actors – including his eight-year-old daughter Lorelei – that he’d shoot a movie with them over 12 years in dribs and drabs. Teenage voices drop, waists thicken and, in one benefit nobody could have predicted, Linklater’s star, Ellar Coltrane, playing the younger child of a divorced couple (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke), develops into a shyly charismatic heartbreaker.

Cool as it sounds, this long-game gimmick doesn’t guarantee a deep film. But amazingly, depth is what Linklater achieves, by letting the years play out in an uninterrupted, near-three-hour flow. ‘Boyhood’ feels unprecedented for its intimacy; the process is quietly radical, but the unassuming script even more so. We’re introduced to the clan in bursts. Olivia (Arquette), a single mother heading back to college, preps her kids for relocation to Houston, while their cool dad Mason (Hawke) shows up in a muscle car at weekends for trips to the bowling alley.

You want the couple to reunite, but the plot has other plans, bringing on a procession of new husbands for Olivia, most notably a professor who becomes a vicious alcoholic (Marco Perella). Hawke’s character, meanwhile, drops the attitude and the wheels, eventually marrying a sweet, conservative Texan from a religious family.

Both Arquette and Hawke turn in understated portrayals, Linklater steering them to the kind of parental wisdom that can only develop over time. Just as vividly, the kids experiment with small acts of rebellion, growing into independent thinkers.

Is ‘Boyhood’ the most nuanced home movie of all time? Not quite, and that would diminish Linklater’s achievement. Better to say that it retrains us to let go of melodramatic expectations and simply let life unfold. It’s a remarkably sophisticated ambition. To some degree, that’s what Linklater has been doing with his ‘Before Sunrise’ trilogy, created over an 18-year period. But ‘Boyhood’ has a scope that’s more thorough and epic. Unshakable, witty and deeply felt, the film will be paying emotional dividends for a long, long time.


Release details

Release date:
Friday July 11 2014
166 mins

Cast and crew

Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater
Ethan Hawke
Patricia Arquette
Lorelei Linklater
Ellar Coltrane
Marco Perella

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
1 of 1 found helpful

This film starts with a boy, Mason, aged 6, and it follows his journey through boyhood, finishing when he is 18. The movie spends a little under 3 hours telling the story of these years. By the end, I was fully invested in the his character and the that of his divorced parents and his younger sister.

The combination of the story, the characters, the direction and the acting make this into a truly involving work of art. It was nominated for 6 Oscars and all I can say is that Birdman must be an amazing film to have beaten it to Best Picture that year! Patricia Arquette won for best supporting actress. Ethan Hawke was outstanding too. The direction is amazing, having been filmed for a few days each year over the period of 11 years.

I think this is a film that will grow in stature over time and in the future will be seen as a true classic.

1 of 1 found helpful

A touching and moving film.It is a little bit 30 something and a little bit like that programme with Mischa Barton..However it has a relaxed thoughtfulness about it that draws you into the film in a non judgemental way.The sad beauty of growing up for young, and old,and finding the point of anything in life,and the passing of time, is captured rather well here.The acting by the taciturn children are always superb.Hawke is a bit laboured and the mother's acting is a bit uneven.One of the year's better films


Can't help but feel that the concept is slightly better than the execution - which should take nothing away from this stunning film. Having used the same cast for over a decade, it is truly a coming of age film, so while the script is fairly limited we do see a young cast growing naturally alongside exceptional performances from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. This is experimental, moving and ultimately ahead of it's time. For that reason, it is absolutely worth seeing

Staff Writer

This is a piece of filmmaking that feels like it is re-defining the rules and making reality and fiction combine in a really interesting way, especially as Linklater uses elements of the actors real lives in the development of the characters in the evolving script. Any parent will be touched by the struggles of raising two young children and watching the meaning of their lives play out over an extended time frame, bringing questions of what life is for, and the passing of time, to the fore.

Staff Writer

A unique concept and interesting to see how the whole family develops, not just the boy in question. I don't think the lead grows into much of a stellar actor but has more of a documentary feel having followed him for so long. Hawke's performance as the father is probably the most authentic of the lot.

This is a good film, and quite an achievement in terms of filming over a long period. Fascinating to see the boy and family grow and change.

I think Mr Linklater could have edited it a little better, too much self-indulgent teenage angst, a bit like watching the OC, or Beverley Hills 90210, at one point. Nevertheless a good film and one worth seeing.