Film review: Boyhood - riveting coming-of-age saga 11 years in the making

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 9:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 9:04pm

Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
Director: Richard Linklater

Will this be Richard Linklater's year at the Oscars? The 54-year-old writer-director's 17th feature, Boyhood, a riveting, deeply moving coming-of-age drama that was more than a decade in the making, has won critics' hearts.

The film has swept awards from Berlin to Chicago, and has picked up five Golden Globe nominations, including best picture, best director, best supporting actress (Patricia Arquette) and best supporting actor (Ethan Hawke).

So why all the hoopla?

Centred on a boy and his sister, the film features strong writing and stunning performances from its two young leads, Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater (the director's daughter), and stellar turns by Hawke and Arquette as their divorced parents, whose relationship goes through several powerful shifts over the years.

What's truly remarkable about Boyhood is that its stars give consistent, emotionally grounded performances over the 11 years it took to shoot the film.

Linklater's conceit is somewhat reminiscent of British director Michael Apted's Up documentary series: shot in seven-year instalments, those films have portrayed the lives of a group of British men and women since they were seven years old in 1964.

For more than a decade, Linklater, his crew, and his cast reunited to shoot new scenes, depicting, in real time, the engaging lives of the members of a typically dysfunctional middle-class family.

It's an unforgettable experience to see the young leads grow up before our eyes. Without the actors' commitment and Linklater's powerful writing, the project would never have worked. He deserves an Oscar simply for pulling it off.