|Directed by||Richard Linklater|
|Produced by||Richard Linklater
|Written by||Richard Linklater|
|Edited by||Sandra Adair|
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Running time||166 minutes|
Boyhood is a 2014 American drama film written, co-produced and directed by Richard Linklater and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. The film was shot intermittently over a twelve-year period, as Coltrane grew from childhood to adulthood; filming began in the summer of 2002 and was completed in October 2013. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, with a theatrical release set for later in 2014. The film also competed in the main competition section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, where Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director. Upon its release, the film was declared a landmark by many notable film critics, with particular praise aimed at the film's direction, acting, and sheer scope. 
The film begins by introducing the audience to Mason, Jr. – He is the six-year-old son of Olivia, a struggling working-class single mother of two young children that rent a small house in a Texan town. He is also the brother of Samantha, an eight-year-old girl. He is shown doing his homework, but failing to turn it in; riding his bike and spray-painting graffiti; and looking at pictures of women in their underwear in a clothing catalog with his friend. He is also shown attending the midnight release of the book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; being read a bedtime story from the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; and arguing during a road trip with his mother and sister.
One night, Olivia’s boyfriend comes over to pick her up and go out, but she cannot leave because the babysitter cancelled at the last minute and she has to stay and watch Mason, Jr. and Samantha. She invites him to stay, but he leaves irritated, saying he has plans to keep, but will come back later. When he does come back, they argue loudly – she says she wants to go out, too, but she has to be responsible and take care of her kids. The yelling wakens Mason, Jr. who gets up, goes into the hallway, and watches them in living room.
The next morning, Samantha wakes up her brother, and performs "Oops! I Did It Again" by Britney Spears to (successfully) annoy him. Olivia enters their shared bedroom and Samantha pretends to cry, accusing her brother of hitting her. Olivia then tells both of them to go back to bed.
Olivia tells Mason, Jr. and Samantha they are moving to Houston -- closer to their grandmother who has found them an apartment -- so Olivia can get a higher-paying job.
In Houston one day, Mason, Sr. picks up Mason, Jr. and Samantha from their grandmother’s house. He gives them presents and takes them bowling. All three but Mason, Jr. get strikes -- Mason, Jr. gets two gutter balls and says they should play with bumpers, to which his father responds that people are not given bumpers in life. That evening, Mason, Jr. and Samantha compete for their father's attention, talking about their accomplishments. Olivia is disappointed when finding out the children have not eaten dinner or started their homework. She asks their father to go outside, and he leaves after the two argue.
One day, Olivia takes Mason, Jr. with her to her college class and then introduces him to her professor, Bill Welbrock, who shows a romantic interest in her in front of Mason, Jr. Eventually, Olivia and Welbrock marry. He has a son and daughter. Their marriage starts well with Olivia continuing her education and being supportive of Welbrock’s tough parenting skills with the four children in the household (seemingly particularly on Randy).
Mason, Sr. picks up Mason, Jr. and Samantha again, and is disappointed with the kids lack of social skills, asking them to "talk to [him]." They go to a museum, a baseball game, and Mason, Sr.’s apartment.
Welbrock’s personality changes quickly. He gives Mason. Jr. an unwanted haircut, taking him from long-haired to nearly bald. Mason, Jr. complains to Olivia, who promises to talk to Welbrock about it. Another day, the boys find Olivia on the garage ground crying with Bill standing next to her, strongly implying an instance of domestic violence. Welbrock also becomes an angry alcoholic, hiding a bottle of hard liquor and ruining a family dinner by throwing a glass at Mason, Jr.'s plate.
One day, Olivia disappears and Welbrock interrogates the children about her whereabouts. Only Samantha knows – who received a phone message from her mother saying they should stay in their rooms. After a drive to an ATM, Welbrock finds out Olivia withdrew all their money. Olivia later comes back to take Mason, Jr. and Samantha out of the household. They stay with a friend and her daughter. Mason, Jr. and Samantha ask Olivia about what will happen to Randy and Mindy, to which she responds that she called their mother and Child Protective Services about Welbrock’s behavior. She promptly files for divorce from him.
Olivia drops off Samantha at her new high school, and then drops off Mason, Jr. at his new middle school where she works. Mason, Jr. walks to the Texas college in which his mother teaches and watches her lecture. When they're home, she scolds Samantha for not picking her brother up. Later, Mason, Jr. goes camping with his friends – they hang out at an unfinished house, drinking beer and talking about sex.
Olivia and a friend host a Thanksgiving party at her home. Mason, Jr. talks to one of his mother’s students in his room. Olivia shows interest in a student, Jim, who is an Afghanistan/Iraq War veteran. Once there, Mason, Jr. admits to her that he has been drinking and smoking. Jim wishes him a happy birthday.
Mason, Sr. picks up the kids again. Mason, Sr. is now married with a baby. Mason, Sr. thanks him for giving Mason, Jr. a camera. Olivia is talking to a handyman replacing the pipes, calling him intelligent and suggesting he get a full education for better work opportunities.
Mason, Sr. takes his wife and children to his wife’s parents’ home. Mason, Sr. and Annie give Mason, Jr. a Beatles mix-tape and a suit (respectively), while her parents give him a personalized bible and a gun.
Mason, Jr. attends a party, meeting Sheena who calls him a little weird, but then becomes his girlfriend. He develops an interest in photography, but is lectured by his photography teacher regarding academic performance and assigned to take pictures at a football game. He then wins a photography contest, the reward for which is money for a college scholarship.
Mason, Jr. gets home late one night, which angers Jim.
Later, Mason, Jr. is shown working as a busboy/dishwasher, and gets promoted by his boss.
Mason, Jr. and Sheena drive to Austin to visit his sister in college. Later, they walk through town, eat a late-night dinner, and kiss during the sunrise. They are later caught in bed by his sister’s roommate, but break-up when she cheats on him with a lacrosse player.
Mason, Jr. drives to Olivia’s house where his family throws him a graduation party. Several family members share moments with each other.
Mason, Sr. takes his son to a venue where Mason, Sr.’s roommate from earlier in the film will perform. They talk about life and bond.
Olivia takes her son and daughter to lunch at a restaurant and symbolically kicks them out of the house, reminding them that they must take their childhood memories with them before she sells the house and moves (on with her own life). A waiter comes up to their table and introduces himself as the handyman from earlier in the film and tells them that, having been inspired by Olivia, he went to school, learned English, and became a manager at that restaurant.
As Mason, Jr. prepares to leave his mother’s new apartment and go to college, Olivia breaks down crying, claiming that there are no major events left in her life but death, now that both of her children are out of the proverbial house.
The film ends as Mason goes to college, stopping at a gas station, filling up on gas, and taking pictures, then moving into his dorm room, meeting his roommate, his roommate’s girlfriend, and her roommate, and then going on a hike with them. He shares a moment with his roommate’s girlfriend’s roommate, asking each other if we seize moments or if moments seize us.
- Patricia Arquette as Olivia
- Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr.
- Lorelei Linklater as Samantha
- Ethan Hawke as Mason Sr.
In May 2002, film director and screenwriter Richard Linklater announced that he would begin shooting the then unnamed film in his home city of Houston, Texas, in the summer of 2002. At that time, Linklater planned to assemble the cast and crew a few weeks out of every year to shoot the story over a 12-year period, reasoning that "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." Linklater hired the then seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane to play the boy as the centerpiece of the story and to continue portraying the role through the film's 12-year shooting period.
In addition to being shot over a twelve-year period, Boyhood was also written over that same time period, with all four major actors playing a part in the writing process. To this end, Linklater notes that the script for certain scenes were sometimes finished only the night prior to shooting.
The name was not decided upon until the summer of 2013, when Linklater decided to call the film 12 Years. However, the title was quickly changed when he learned about the movie 12 Years a Slave, fearing it to be too similar. IFC, the film's distributor, committed to a film budget of $200,000, which Variety estimated to equate to $2.4 million over the 12-year shooting period. Despite the budget, Linklater had an unusual level of freedom with the production, never having to show IFC the resulting work. Ethan Hawke said in 2013 that Boyhood is
also known as The Twelve Year Project; Richard Linklater and I have made a short film every year for the last 11 years, one more to go, that follows the development of a young boy from age 6 to 18. I play the father, and 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. ... Next year, he will graduate high school and we will finish the film. It will probably come out in two years.
Release and reception
Boyhood opened in a limited release in five theaters and grossed $387,618 with an average of $77,524 per theater ranking #19 at the box office.
Boyhood has received near unanimous acclaim from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows a 99% "Fresh" rating based on 150 reviews, with an average score of 9.4 out of 10. This is the highest average score of any film receiving over 100 reviews. The film has a 100% "Fresh" rating based on the site's "Top Critics", receiving an average score of 9.8 out of 10. The site's consensus reads, "Epic in technical scale but breathlessly intimate in narrative scope, Boyhood is a sprawling investigation of the human condition". The film has a score of 99 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 39 reviews, signifying "universal acclaim". It is among the highest-rated films on the entire site.
Halfway through 2014, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone named Boyhood the best movie of the year so far; 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". Richard Roeper gave the film an A+, calling it one of his favorite films and one of the greatest films he had ever seen.
|2014||64th Berlin International Film Festival||Best Director||Won|
|Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas||Won|
|Reader Jury of the Berliner Morgenpost||Won|
|Golden Berlin Bear||Nominated|
|2014 SXSW Film Festival||Louis Black Lone Star Award||Won|
|Special Jury Recognition||Won|
|San Francisco International Film Festival||Founder’s Directing Award||Won|
|Seattle International Film Festival||Best Film||Won|
- Antoine Doinel – In five films, French filmmaker François Truffaut followed the fictional life of Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud) - beginning in 1959, with following films for 1962, 1968, 1970 and 1979.
- The Children of Golzow – a series of documentary films following the lives of several people from 1961 to 2007.
- Up series – a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old.
- Perspective – an episodic drama film, started in 2012, from Canada directed by B. P. Paquette and starring Stéphane Paquette, Patricia Tedford, and Pandora Topp in a love triangle.
- The Bill Douglas Trilogy - autobiographical series based on the filmaker's childhood, all starring amateur child actor Stephen Archibald and made between 1972-78
- The Apu Trilogy - Over the course of three films, Satyajit Ray tells the story of Apu as he grows from child to adult.
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