Boyhood Review: Twelve Years Fly By on Screen

By: Adam Baron

In Richard Linklater’s ambitious, coming of age drama, Boyhood, never before has the passage of time and its effect on the characters been depicted so visibly on the screen. 

Filmed over a period of twelve years, with the same actors, the viewer gets to experience in a span of three hours what we barely can perceive happening to ourselves in our own lives. People age before our eyes; growing older and getting wiser.

Nowhere is the change of time more noticeable than it is with the character of Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane. We witness time transform and sculpt Mason from a doughy seven year old boy to handsome young man embarking on his life in college. Along the way we watch Mason experience the types of events a boy going though his teenage years would experience; a first kiss, a first beer. 

Time tempers all the characters in Linklater’s Boyhood. The mother, played by Patricia Arquette, struggles with poor choices in husbands and boyfriends setting for much of the momentum in terms of the plot. People come and go in the span of twelve years, families ripped apart – but it also makes her more mature and forces her to better herself. Mason’s father, played by Ethan Hawke, a Linklater regular, slowly morphs from free-spirit, muscle car driving father to Dockers-wearing responsible family man who later drives a minivan.  

Time becomes as tangible as any other character in this movie. The characters are all moving through it like leaves floating down a river experiencing life’s up’s and down’s, it’s tragedies and triumphs. Each event chiseling away at the character’s lives and making them who they are in the present. 

Even at it’s lengthy three-hour running time, it is an experience of a movie you will never forget, and will make you acutely aware of time’s guiding hand in your own life.

  • ira

    This movie put me to sleep.

    Come on–YOU try to stay awake for it!

    Also, it wasn’t much fun watching a hot young mom turn into a frumpy middle-aged woman in just 12 years.

    It’s a great concept…there are some elements that are interesting and some good scenes…but all in all, it flops. It wasn’t produced with a real script, they kind of made it up as they went along, and it really shows.