Boyhood (film)

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Boyhood film.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Richard Linklater
Cathleen Sutherland
Jonathan Sehring
John Sloss
Written by Richard Linklater
Starring Ellar Coltrane
Patricia Arquette
Lorelei Linklater
Ethan Hawke
Cinematography Lee Daniel
Shane Kelly
Edited by Sandra Adair
Distributed by IFC Films
Release dates
  • January 19, 2014 (2014-01-19) (Sundance Film Festival)[1][2]
  • July 11, 2014 (2014-07-11) (United States)
Running time 165 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million[3]
Box office $41,582,534[3][4]

Boyhood is a 2014 American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Richard Linklater and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. The film was shot intermittently over an eleven-year period from May 2002 to October 2013, showing the growth of the young boy and his sister to adulthood. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival,[1] and was released theatrically on July 11, 2014.[2] The film also competed in the main competition section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival,[5] where Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director.[6] The film was declared a landmark by many notable film critics, with particular praise for its direction, acting, and scope.[7][8][9][10][11]


In 2002, six-year-old Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) in Texas. Mason overhears Olivia arguing with her boyfriend, saying she has no free time.

Olivia moves the family so she can attend the University of Houston, complete her degree, and get professional work. In Houston, Mason's father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), takes the children bowling. When he drops them off at home, he argues with Olivia while Mason and Samantha watch from a window.

In 2004, Olivia takes Mason to one of her classes, introducing him to her professor, Bill Welbrock (Marco Perella). Olivia and Bill marry and blend their two families, including Bill's two children from a previous marriage. Olivia continues her education and is supportive of Bill's strict parenting style. However, Bill becomes abusive as alcoholism takes over his life. After he assaults Olivia and endangers the children, Olivia moves the family into a friend's house and files for divorce.

In 2008, Mason Sr. learns that Samantha has a boyfriend and talks to her and Mason about contraception. He and Mason go camping at Pedernales Falls State Park. Mason and Samantha grow into their new lives in San Marcos, a town close to Austin. Olivia teaches psychology at college and marries Jim, a student and veteran of the Afghanistan/Iraq War. Mason experiments with marijuana and alcohol and receives attention from girls.

On Mason's fifteenth birthday, Mason Sr, remarried and with a baby, takes Mason and Samantha to visit his wife's parents. He gives Mason a suit and a mix CD of songs by Beatles; his step-grandparents give him a personalized Bible and a vintage shotgun. Mason becomes interested in photography.

Mason attends a party and meets Sheena, who becomes his girlfriend. After Mason arrives home late one night from a party, Jim, who has been drinking heavily, confronts Mason about his late hours. Olivia later divorces Jim.

In 2012, Mason and Sheena visit Samantha at the University of Texas at Austin. In Mason's senior year, he has a painful breakup with Sheena. He also wins silver in a state photography contest and is awarded college scholarship money. Mason's family throws him a graduation party and toasts his success. Mason Sr. gives him advice about his breakup.

Planning to sell the house, Olivia asks the children to sort through their possessions. As Mason prepares to leave his mother’s new flat for college, Olivia breaks down, saying she is disappointed with life. At college, Mason moves into his dorm room. His roommate invites him to go hiking at Big Bend National Park with his girlfriend and her roommate, Nicole, who gives him drugs. Nicole asks Mason if people seize moments or if moments seize them; Mason replies that they are always in the moment.



In May 2002, film director and screenwriter Richard Linklater said that he would begin shooting an untitled film in his home city of Houston that summer.[12] He planned to assemble the cast and crew for a few weeks' filming annually for 12 years. He said: "I've long wanted to tell the story of a parent-child relationship that follows a boy from the first through the 12th grade and ends with him going off to college. But the dilemma is that kids change so much that it is impossible to cover that much ground. And I am totally ready to adapt the story to whatever he is going through."[12] IFC, the film's distributor, committed to a film budget of $200,000 per year, or $2.4 million over the 12-year shooting period.[13]

Linklater hired the seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane to play the boy.[14][15] The cast could not sign contracts for the film due to the De Havilland Law, which makes it illegal to contract someone for more than seven years of work. Linklater told Hawke that he would have to finish the film if Linklater died.[16] Boyhood was written over the shooting period, with all major actors playing a part in the writing process; scripts for certain scenes were sometimes finished the night prior to shooting.[13]

Ethan Hawke said in 2013 before the film was released:

"It's Tolstoy-esque in scope. I thought the Before series was the most unique thing I would ever be a part of, but Rick has engaged me in something even more strange. Doing a scene with a young boy at the age of 7 when he talks about why do raccoons die, and at the age of 12 when he talks about video games, and 17 when he asks me about girls, and have it be the same actor — to watch his voice and body morph — it's a little bit like timelapse photography of a human being."[17]

The film had the working title, The Twelve-Year Project, until the summer of 2013, when Linklater decided to name it 12 Years. Worrying that the name might be confused with 12 Years a Slave (2013), he renamed it Boyhood.[13] Hawke was amazed that the producers "still had their job" at the film's completion despite "[having] to hide a couple hundred thousand dollars a year for over a decade while we slowly made this movie."[16] Despite the risks, Linklater had an unusual level of freedom with the production, never having to show IFC the work in progress.[13]


MPAA rating controversy[edit]

In the US, the film was given an R rating by the MPAA, recommending nobody under 17 be admitted without a guardian. IFC said they considered the film appropriate for younger viewers and would allow unaccompanied adolescents to attend the film in their own theater.[18] In the UK release, the BBFC gave Boyhood a 15 certificate, making it illegal for cinemas to admit and vendors to supply to children under the age of 15.[19] Under Germany's System of voluntary self-control, Boyhood was certified for audiences aged 6 or over. The Board ruled that the depiction of the parents as loving and caring would give school children enough emotional support to deal with the film's depictions of profanity, alcoholism, and violence.[20]

Box office[edit]

Boyhood opened on July 11, 2014 in a limited release in 4 theaters in North America and grossed $387,618 with an average of $77,524 per theater ranking #19 at the box office. The film expanded the next week to 34 theaters and grossed $1,170,217 with an average of $34,418 per theater. The film had its Wide release on August 15, opening in 771 theaters and grossing $1,992,448, with an average of $2,584 per theater and ranking #11 at the box office. The film's widest release in the U.S. was 775 theaters and has earned $23,582,534 domestically and $18,000,000 internationally for a total of $41,582,534, well above its $4 million production budget.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Boyhood received unanimous acclaim from film critics, with a 99% certified "fresh" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 204 reviews with an average score of 9.4 out of 10. The consensus states "Epic in technical scale but breathlessly intimate in narrative scope, Boyhood is a sprawling investigation of the human condition".[22] The film has a full score of 100 on Metacritic based on 49 reviews, signifying "universal acclaim".[23] It is the highest rated of all films reviewed upon their original release on the site.[24] It also holds the highest number of reviews for a film with a score of 100, and is among the highest-scoring films ever reviewed. The praise for Boyhood extended beyond the Anglosphere. A collection of 25 French critiques on Allocine, including those from Le Monde and Cahiers du Cinéma, indicates near-unanimous approval.[25]

Halfway through 2014, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone named Boyhood the best movie of the year so far;[26] in his review, Travers awarded the movie a 4/4 (the first perfect score he had given in 2014). Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 5/5 stars, calling it "one of the greatest films of the decade".[27] Richard Roeper gave the film an A+, calling it one of the greatest films he had ever seen.[28] Wai Chee Dimock, writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, compares Linklater's film with Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee's memoir, Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life.[29]

A portion of film critics reacted less positively to the film. Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan described it as "at best, OK" and one whose "animating idea is more interesting than its actual satisfactions."[30] Sam Adams of Indiewire argued that the unanimous praise for Boyhood is bad for film criticism, as it tends to marginalize the analysis of critics who disagree with the majority. Adams argued that masterpieces are made "by careful scrutiny" and not "by unanimous praise."[31]

Home media[edit]

Director Richard Linklater told Hypable in July 2014 that he was planning a DVD/Blu-ray release through The Criterion Collection:[32]

Yeah, we’ve got a ton of behind the scenes stuff. We made this in the era where everyone has a digital camera so we unearthed an interview from year one with Ellar, Lorelai, Patricia and myself, Patricia interviewed me in 2002. I hadn’t seen this since we shot it, Ellar had forgotten quite a bit of it but he got to see himself as a wide-eyed six year old. For people who like the movie, I think there will be a lot of cool little treasures.

On August 21, Variety reported that Paramount Home Media Distribution had acquired U.S. home entertainment rights for DVD/Blu-ray and digital distribution. IFC Films will retain VOD and EST sales as part of the deal.[33]The film will be released on Blu-RAY & DVD on January 6, 2015. But it will be available on Digital HD by December 9, 2014. [34]


Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Berlin International Film Festival February 15, 2014 Best Director Richard Linklater Won [35]
Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas Boyhood Won
Reader Jury of the Berliner Morgenpost Boyhood Won
Golden Bear Boyhood Nominated
SXSW Film Festival March 11, 2014 Louis Black Lone Star Award Boyhood Won [36]
San Francisco International Film Festival May 2, 2014 Founder’s Directing Award Richard Linklater Won [37]
Seattle International Film Festival June 8, 2014 Best Film Boyhood Won [38]
Best Director Richard Linklater Won
Best Actress Patricia Arquette Won
Sydney Film Festival June 15, 2014 Sydney Film Prize Boyhood Nominated [39]
Norwegian International Film Festival August 22, 2014 Norwegian Film Critics Award Boyhood Won [41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Richard Linklater’s Ambitious ‘Boyhood’ Premieres at Sundance". 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  2. ^ a b Neumyer, Scott (2013-10-25). "Richard Linklater Talks Before Midnight, Boyhood, and a Possible TV Series". Parade. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  3. ^ a b "Boyhood (2014)". Box Office Mojo. 2014-07-11. Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  4. ^ Boyhood (2014) - Box Office Mojo - Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ "Berlinale 2014: Competition Complete". berlinale. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  6. ^ "The Awards Of The 64th Berlin International Film Festival". berlinale. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  7. ^ "Richard Linklater's audacious, epic cinematic journey". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  8. ^ "Linklater changes the game". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  9. ^ "Linklater's 'Boyhood' is a model of cinematic realism". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  10. ^ "Richard Linklater's 12-year masterpiece". Salon. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  11. ^ "Boyhood a remarkable story spanning 12 years". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  12. ^ a b Blackburn, Rachel. (May 16, 2002) PA News Shooting begins on film that will take 12 years.
  13. ^ a b c d Chang, Justin (June 25, 2014). "Richard Linklater on ‘Boyhood,’ the ‘Before’ Trilogy and the Luxury of Time". Variety. Retrieved July 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ Carroll, Larry (2006-11-29). "Got Plans For 2013? Check Out Richard Linklater's '12-Year Movie'". MTV Movies. Viacom. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  15. ^ Rea, Steven (May 19, 2002). "De Niro reassures a studio about a boy". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Features Arts & Entertainment section, page H9. 
  16. ^ a b O'Brien, Conan (host); Hawke, Ethan; Rajskub, Mary Lynn; Scott, Jamie (2014-08-05). "Full Episode — Tues. 8/5 - Ethan Hawke, Mary Lynn Rajskub, And Musical Guest Jamie Scott". Conan. TBS.
  17. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (June 6, 2013). "Ethan Hawke Says Richard Linklater's Secret, Long Developing 'Boyhood' Will Be Released In 2 Years". Indiewire. The Playlist (blog). Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Statement on BOYHOOD rating – IFC Center". Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  19. ^ "Boyhood (2014)". British Board of Film Classication. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "Ruling of the Film Classification Board". Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Boyhood (2014) - Box Office Mojo". 
  22. ^ "Boyhood". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  23. ^ "Boyhood Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  24. ^ "Highest Rated Movies of All Time". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  25. ^ "Boyhood critiques presse et spectateurs". Allocine. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  26. ^ "The Best and Worst Movies of 2014 So Far Pictures". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  27. ^ Peter Bradshaw. "Boyhood review – one of the great films of the decade | Peter Bradshaw | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  28. ^ "Boyhood | Richard Roeper Reviews". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  29. ^ Wai Chee Dimock,"A Boyhood Epic"
  30. ^ Kenneth Turan. "Kenneth Turan takes a critic's lonely stand on Boyhood". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  31. ^ Sam Adams. "Why the unanimous praise for Boyhood is bad for film criticism and for Boyhood". Indiewire. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  32. ^ "‘Boyhood’ director Richard Linklater talks about the star’s unwavering 12-year commitment". Hypable. 2014-07-18. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  33. ^ "‘Boyhood’ to Grow Old with Paramount on Home Entertainment Platforms". Variety. 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  34. ^ "Exclusive: 'Boyhood' heads to DVD in January". October 10, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Berlin Film Festival: ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ Wins Golden Bear; ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Takes Grand Jury Prize; Richard Linklater Named Best Director, More". February 15, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  36. ^ "SXSW: 2014 Jury and Special Award winners announced". Entertainment Weekly. March 11, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Richard Linklater Nabs SFIFF’s Founder’s Directing Award". Variety (Penske Media Corporation). March 12, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ Wins 3 Awards At Seattle". June 8, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Sydney Film Fest: 'The Rover' With Robert Pattinson, Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' to Compete". The Hollywood Reporter (Prometheus Global Media). May 7, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  40. ^ "SFF 2014 Official Competition winner". Sydney Film Festival. June 15, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Award winners at The Norwegian International Film Festival". Norwegian International Film Festival. August 22, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Cinéfest screening unique Thornloe University project — Sudbury Lifestyle News". 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  43. ^ (2012-09-21). "Filmmaker gives Perspective". Sudbury Star. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  44. ^ "Points North | Unfinished movie debuts at Cinefest". Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  45. ^ "Cinéfest Sudbury Announces Additional Canadian Feature Presentations". Cinefest. 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 

External links[edit]