Rarely does a movie attempting to project the complexities of growing up get everything so right. I can think of a handful. Millions, Hope & Glory, and Where the Wild Things Are come to mind, though those films focused on narrow "coming of age" moments in a characters life. Boyhood, the new film by Richard Linklater, is unparalleled in its scope of trying to capture the way characters navigate through life.
Filmed over the course of 12 years, with the same actors, the audience literally watches the characters growing up. In this day and age of assembly line blockbusters, it's basically unheard of that such an ambitious project would ever see the light of day, or be so amazingly wonderful. The patience of a director to stick with this kind of project is enough to be commended, but to actually achieve this kind of result is worthy of immense praise.
The thing that struck me the most was how even though this is the portrait of a boy growing up in the last decade, I could have just as easily been watching moments from my own childhood 20 years earlier, and I'm sure someone 20 years older than me would feel the same way. This is due to the film's careful focus on the feelings that surround the events. It's not trying to be a portrait of what it means to be a child in today's world, but rather chooses to examine the universal trials and tribulations that come with growing up.
There are many dramatic moments. The main character's life is populated with shitty people, just as all of our lives are. But the movie never steers into melodrama. The expressions, and uncomfortable reactions of the character are enough to convey the emotions such events cause. I found myself remembering similar events in my life and could clearly identify with the character without too much having to be explained. And now, as an adult, I was also able to identify and sympathize with the parents as they struggled to guide their children through the difficulties of life, always doing the best they could. Both Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette do an amazing job of playing the role of parents who don't always know what's best, but never falter in their attempt to provide a good life for their children.
Groundbreaking. Honest. Brilliant.