Right from the beginning, it is impossible not to be blown away by Boyhood. It is an incredibly unique experience, a cinematic event that may never be equalled in terms of scale and pure emotion and which feels beautifully personal and human throughout.
Filmed over twelve years, with filming taking place over three days a year, means we experience the actors growing up realistically and we develop a much closer connection with each character. The film begins in 2002, with the central character being six year old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) who is an ambitious but rebellious young kid, with an older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and an often despairing mother (Patricia Arquette). While the film initially centre's round Mason, it soon spreads out revealing a wealth of fascinating characters, in particular his divorced dad (Ethan Hawke) who seems like a kid trapped in a man's body and represents the father every young boy wants: carefree, fun-loving and childish. The film subtly transitions between each year, with each character gradually developing and maturing, as Mason's eyes are gradually opened to the realities of the real world. The film is also peppered with culture icons, including Harry Potter and the video game Halo which add to the nostalgia and realism without ever feeling too pointless or gratuitous.
This is by far one of the most relatable films I have ever seen, as Mason's journey through childhood is perfectly observed, with the time scale of the film definitely helping in this aspect. Coltrane and Linklater thankfully both remain convincing and capable actors as they grow up on screen, with Coltrane evolving from an innocent excitable kid into a wonderfully awkward teenager. Arquette is particularly brilliant, covering a huge range of emotions over the twelve years, from exhaustion to elation. For large parts of the film she is often the most fascinating character, as she tries to steer her children in the right direction and keep her own life from falling apart. Hawke is also greatly likeable, with his character's depth gradually revealed through a series of emotional scenes between him and Mason. The film is beautifully subtle in its most tender moments, letting the characters speak for themself. The soundtrack reflects this mood, a delightful fusion of indie and popular music which perfectly reflects the events on screen. The extraordinary landscapes scattered throughout the film matched with the soundtrack create many memorable moments and lets be honest; a film that makes even Coldplay sound decent must be pretty special.
Boyhood never feels bloated, overcooked or overlong. Instead it is a film of raw emotions and life changing experiences that pulls you in right from the first minute and never lets you go. It is heartfelt, evocative, witty, breath-taking, captivating and colourful, often all at the same time. It is a once in a life time journey. And what a journey it is.