Review: Boyhood (2014)

by Brian Eggert

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Richard Linklater

Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Elijah Smith, Lorelei Linklater


166 min.

Ordinary life becomes monumental and extraordinary in Boyhood, Richard Linklater's experiment in fiction that was shot between 2002 and 2013. Over those 12 years, Linklater's camera carefully followed child actor Ellar Coltrane’s coming-of-age, shooting only 39 days' worth of scenes over the years to chart the formation of his character from a 6-year-old boy to a young man bound for college with a fully developed identity. Alfred Hitchcock once told François Truffaut that drama is "life with the dull bits cut out," but through the course of his film, Linklater resists the more melodramatic or artificial bits in favor of a simpler story about life and time, and it unfolds quite naturally. Along with his small cast of regulars, played by actors in a considerable creative commitment, Linklater revisited this fiction year after year, and therein achieved something rare in the realm of independent cinema. 

The very notion of this project was a huge risk on Linklater's part, primarily because his film is fiction and not, say, a documentary like Michael Apted's ongoing Up series, which from 1964 onward has dropped-in every 7 years to chart the progress of 14 British citizens since their childhood. Some of Apted's subjects have died or opted out of participating, whereas, if the same thing had happened to Boyhood... Read the full article


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