Coming-of-age films form part of the daily bread of filmmaking, not only in Hollywood but in almost every movie industry around the world. Boyhood, to be released in June this year, however, takes the concept of a coming-of-age film to a whole new level that we have never seen done before.
Boyhood's creator Richard Linklater (known for the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight trilogy all released 9 years apart) chose 7-year-old Ellar Coltrane as his protagonist, Mason, back in 2002. This groundbreaking film, which encompasses the very essence of what dedication to art is, captures the journey of a young boy growing up over the course of 12 years using the same actor.
This larger-than-life experiment saw the group of actors, including Ethan Hawke (one of Linklater’s staple actors) and Patricia Arquette, who play Mason's parents, reunite every summer for over a decade to document a moving account of a boy growing up, culminating with him leaving for college.
But it is not the physical and emotional growth of the boy turning into a young man that the audience witnesses, it is also the aging of the other principle actors. Hawke and Arquette visibly change through the film, going through a journey themselves. Even Mason's sister, played by Linklater's daughter, Lorelei, also evolves into a young woman through the film.
This is the first time a story of this nature has been attempted to be told on screen. The renowned director's Before Sunrise trilogy grazed the surface of this idea, with the three films spanning almost 30 years, but not to the extent that Boyhood has gone. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year and was also widely critically acclaimed at the Berlin Film Festival in February.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic event – and quite literally so. We’ve waited over 12 years so far for the filming to be completed and now we just have to wait a few months more for the film to be officially released. The trailer is out but of course it does no justice to the magnitude of the film. Linklater should be saluted – this is not only a daunting task that required extreme patience and perseverance, but also one that not every director will have the mettle to fulfil.