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 date(s)
  • January 19, 2014 (2014-01-19) (Sundance Film Festival)[1][2]
  • July 11, 2014 (2014-07-11) (United States)
Running time 164 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million[4]
Box office $23,017,133[4][5]

Boyhood is a 2014 American coming-of-age 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 an eleven-year period from May 2002 to October 2013 as Coltrane grew from childhood 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,[6] where Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director.[7] The film was declared a landmark by many notable film critics, with particular praise for its direction, acting, and scope.[8][9][10][11][12]


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

Olivia moves the family to Houston so she can attend the University of Houston. The children do not want to move and Mason is worried that their father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) will not be able to find them. In Houston, Mason Sr. 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 her college class and introduces him to her professor, Bill Welbrock (Marco Perella). Olivia and Bill marry and blend their two families, including Bill's 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 Bill assaults Olivia and endangers the children, Olivia takes Mason and Samantha to 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 contraceptives. He and Mason go camping at Pedernales Falls State Park and solidify their relationship. Olivia, Mason and Samantha grow into their new lives in San Marcos, a town close to Austin. Olivia teaches psychology at college and marries one of her students, Jim, a veteran of the Afghanistan/Iraq War. Mason begins using drugs and alcohol while receiving attention from girls.

On Mason's fifteenth birthday, Mason Sr, now remarried with a new baby, takes Mason and Samantha to his wife, Annie's, parents’ home. Mason Sr. gives him a Beatles mix tape and a suit; Annie's parents give him a personalized Bible and a shotgun. Later, Mason attends a party and meets Sheena, who becomes his girlfriend. After arriving 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, where they are caught in bed together by Samantha's roommate. During Mason's senior year in high school, he has a painful breakup with Sheena, and 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.

Olivia asks her children to sort through their possessions before she sells the house. As Mason prepares to leave his mother’s new apartment to attend Sul Ross State University, Olivia breaks down crying, feeling she has nothing left now her children have grown up. At college, Mason moves into his dorm room and meets his roommate. He invites Mason to go hiking at Big Bend National Park with his girlfriend and her roommate Nicole, who gives Mason a pot brownie. 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 announced that he would begin shooting the then unnamed film in his home city of Houston, in the summer of 2002.[13] 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."[13] Linklater hired the then seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane to play the boy as the centerpiece of the story[14][15] and to continue portraying the role through the film's 12-year shooting period.

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.[16]

He stated that he first realized that the production was unusual when the actors learned that they could not sign contracts for the film, because "it's illegal to do something for more than seven years contractually". Linklater also told Hawke that if Linklater died, Hawke would have to finish the film.[17] In addition to being shot over a 12-year period, Boyhood was also written over that same time period, with all four major actors playing a part in the writing process. Scripts for certain scenes were sometimes finished only the night prior to shooting.[18]

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.[18] 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.[18] Hawke was amazed that the producers "still had their job" at the film's finish despite "[having] to hide a couple hundred thousand dollars a year for over a decade while we slowly made this movie. The fact that he didn't get fired for doing such a thing is pretty remarkable".[17] Despite the budget, Linklater had an unusual level of freedom with the production, never having to show IFC the resulting work.[18]

Release and reception[edit]


The film was released on July 11, 2014. 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. The distribution later widened, peaking at 771 cinemas. As of 17 August 2014 the film has grossed $22,666,000 worldwide.


In the US, the film was given an R rating by the MPAA, recommending nobody under 17 be admitted without a guardian. IFC stated that they considered the film appropriate for younger viewers and would allow unaccompanied adolescents to attend the film in their own theater.[19] In the UK release, the BBFC gave Boyhood a 15 certificate.[20] Under Germany's System of voluntary self conrol, 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 alcoholism and violence.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Boyhood received near-unanimous acclaim from film critics, with a 99% certified "fresh" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 185 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "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 could be considered among the highest scoring films ever reviewed.

Halfway through 2014, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone named Boyhood the best movie of the year so far;[25] 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".[26] Richard Roeper gave the film an A+, calling it one of his favorite films and one of the greatest films he had ever seen.[27] 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.[28]

A small minority of film critics reacted less positively to the film. Los Angeles Times critic, Kenneth Turan, lamented that he did not appreciate the film as much as his peers, describing it as "at best, OK" and one whose "animating idea is more interesting than its actual satisfactions." [29] 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."[30]


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 [31]
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 [32]
San Francisco International Film Festival May 2, 2014 Founder’s Directing Award Richard Linklater Won [33]
Seattle International Film Festival June 8, 2014 Best Film Boyhood Won [34]
Best Director Richard Linklater Won
Best Actress Patricia Arquette Won
Sydney Film Festival June 15, 2014 Sydney Film Prize Boyhood Nominated [35]

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. ^ Brevet, Brad (2014-01-13). "Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Added to Sundance, 164 Minute Run Time". Rope of Silicon. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  4. ^ a b "Boyhood (2014)". Box Office Mojo. 2014-07-11. Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  5. ^ Boyhood (2014) - Box Office Mojo - Box Office Mojo
  6. ^ "Berlinale 2014: Competition Complete". berlinale. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  7. ^ "The Awards Of The 64th Berlin International Film Festival". berlinale. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  8. ^ "Richard Linklater's audacious, epic cinematic journey". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  9. ^ "Linklater changes the game". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  10. ^ "Linklater's 'Boyhood' is a model of cinematic realism". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  11. ^ "Richard Linklater's 12-year masterpiece". Salon. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  12. ^ "Boyhood a remarkable story spanning 12 years". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  13. ^ a b Blackburn, Rachel. (May 16, 2002) PA News Shooting begins on film that will take 12 years.
  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. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ "Statement on BOYHOOD rating – IFC Center". Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  20. ^ "Boyhood (2014)". British Board of Film Classication. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Ruling of the Film Classification Board". Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  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. ^ "The Best and Worst Movies of 2014 So Far Pictures". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  26. ^ Peter Bradshaw. "Boyhood review – one of the great films of the decade | Peter Bradshaw | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  27. ^ "Boyhood | Richard Roeper Reviews". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  28. ^ Wai Chee Dimock,"A Boyhood Epic"
  29. ^ Kenneth Turan. "Kenneth Turan takes a critic's lonely stand on Boyhood". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  30. ^ Sam Adams. "Why the unanimous praise for Boyhood is bad for film criticism and for Boyhood". Indiewire. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  31. ^ "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. 
  32. ^ "SXSW: 2014 Jury and Special Award winners announced". Entertainment Weekly. March 11, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Richard Linklater Nabs SFIFF’s Founder’s Directing Award". Variety (Penske Media Corporation). March 12, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ Wins 3 Awards At Seattle". June 8, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  35. ^ "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. 
  36. ^ "SFF 2014 Official Competition winner". Sydney Film Festival. June 15, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Cinéfest screening unique Thornloe University project - Sudbury Lifestyle News". 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  38. ^ (2012-09-21). "Filmmaker gives Perspective". Sudbury Star. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  39. ^ "Points North | Unfinished movie debuts at Cinefest". Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  40. ^ "Cinéfest Sudbury Announces Additional Canadian Feature Presentations". Cinefest. 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 

External links[edit]