Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” – 12 Years of Filmmaking

I watch a lot of movies but I don’t really have any “favorites”. I don’t have a favorite actor, actress, not many people who I’d feel tongue-tied over if I happened to come across them in a random moment.

I do have a favorite director though – Richard Linklater.

I’ve seen a lot of his movies and many of them resonate with me in some way or another, especially Waking Life and the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight series. Last year, I had the cool experience of attending a screening of Before Midnight with a conversation and Q&A with Richard Linklater.

Linklater’s latest movie, Boyhood, is one that has been years in the making as he filmed it over 12 years, depicting the life of the character Mason from 6 to 18 years old, with the same actor playing Mason throughout all those years. In fact, the entire cast is the same.

Although it releases in July (I think), it’s been screened at a few festivals and I had a chance to see it Friday night at the Castro Theater as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Let me first say that although I’m a Linklater fan, I wasn’t waiting for this movie, not like when I realized they were making Before Midnight. Because I first read about Boyhood when it started filming, I’d figured it’d be too stressful to anticipate a movie for 12 years so I didn’t really give it too much thought. I was actually surprised that it was coming out because I pretty much forgot about it. The 2014 release year was the future and my reaction upon finding out about the screening was a lot like “Oh hey, that movie! It’s done?”

I had a moment before the film started, during the conversation of Richard Linklater and, randomly, Parker Posey on the stage in the Castro Theater, that I hoped that the movie would be good for the director’s sake. I can’t imagine how it must be to spend that much time on something and the pressure for the project to be good. But, if you think about it, out of the many directors out there, who better to take on a project like this than Richard Linklater.

And so the movie…

Watching Boyhood was quite the experience. I can’t believe how seamless the movie is as we see Mason develop from year to year. At 2 and a half hours, the movie didn’t feel long at all. It was funny and touching and I really liked it. The moments felt genuine, not acted at all, and I honestly thought it was pretty great.

I can’t believe how well the method of filming a few days a year worked. All the actors in the movie – Ellar Coltrane as Mason, Lorelai Linklater as Samantha, his older sister, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the divorced parents – all of them really took to this project and helped it become a very cool, very unique film that I think others would be hard-pressed to replicate.

The one thing that bothered me was that I realized that I’m still as confused at my age about life as Mason is as he’s embarking on college. When does life become clear or have I just never grown up? As my friend and I discussed the film afterwards, she said that the mother didn’t have life figured out either and maybe that’s the point.

I think we need to be told that when we are young – there’s no age, no milestone, that we will come upon in which we will instantly “get it” and everything makes sense. It’s like what my 3 year-old niece said to me once: “InshAllah, one day, you’ll be growed up like me.”

Okay, maybe it’s not quite like that but y’know what I mean.

But seriously, Boyhood. Watching it was definitely an experience and it’s cool that even after all the movies he’s done, director Richard Linklater still finds ways to connect with his audience.

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