boyhood, the film everyone's talking about

Boyhood is the most talked about film of the moment, and for i-D Boy Week Sean Baker delves into the time capsule of Richard Linklater's new film, shot over twelve years using the same actors. Here's our five point, five star, review.

by Sean Baker
12 August 2014, 8:30am


I don't watch films very often, which means when I walk out of a cinema and immediately text my mates (more likely, my parents) telling them how magnificent a film is, it's not an opinion they usually trust. But having had a transcendental experience watching Boyhood earlier this week, I've set myself the task of trying to convince as many people as possible to go see it.

Boyhood, is the new release from director Richard Linklater, most famous for making Before Sunrise and the two sequels that came after, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. The Sagrada Familia of cinema, Boyhood has been more than twelve's years in the making, and it's safe to say it was worth every minute. Launched to immediate acclaim at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it has since earned plaudits from both press and plebs like me.

Intelligent people like Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian have given the film 5 stars and said things like: "like the fabled Jesuit, Richard Linklater has taken the boy and given us the man". The Miami Herald, who also obviously know more than me, also gave it 5 stars and Rotten Tomatoes has a 92% audience satisfaction rate, equating to 4.5 stars which we'll round-up to 5 stars so this piece can continue its gripping course. With this stellar success in mind, here is my five point, five star review of Boyhood:

Shot intermittently over the course of 12 years, the film follows the trials and tribulations of a modern day Texan family's suburban life. The parents, acted by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, both gracefully age from their thirties to their forties over the course of the film. Playing out separations, house moves and job changes - three of the most stressful things life can ever confront you with - all in the course of the 150 minute film, with every moment the sound of struck chords echoes throughout the cinema. Whilst watching the two grown-ups transform both as characters and actors is fascinating, the uncontested star of the film is Ellar Coltrane, cast by Richard Linklater when he was just six-years-old he evolves into a superstar before our eyes. Guessing it was filmed in the kids' annual school summer holidays, the film's split into around 12 chapters and is a definitive coming-of-age story, or Bildungsroman as pseudo-intellects would call it, a word I learnt when I was 16 and have been desperately seeking an opportunity to drop into casual conversation ever since. From ogling the lingerie pages of his mum's mail order catalogue at eight, to navigating awkward contraception conversations with his dad at 13, to his car boot snogging sessions at 15, Ellar's performance is impeccable. 

With dad, Richard Linklater, as Director and his daughter Lorelei Linklater - who appears to have been named with a future topping folk music charts in mind - playing the role of the daughter, Boyhood cements the Linklaters as a movie dynasty in the making. Whilst Rick has cut his teeth directing blockbusters from Dazed and Confused to School of Rock, Lorelei was a novice in all senses of the word when she first started shooting Boyhood, aged 8 in 2002. Now 20 and Lorelei's performance, on a par with the acting greats that appear in the movie, looks set to place her in prime position for leading lady limelight. Watch this face. 

Game Boy Advances, backseat bubblegum bubbles, flares wider than the sun, Harry Potter book release parties and the moment when Gaga first walks into prison in the Telephone video. With the film spanning most of the Noughties it packages together some of pop culture's finest hours. It's also reminiscent of one of the greatest films of the Nineties, Now and Then, which is pretty great. 

A multi-sensory rollercoaster ride, from the opening strums of Coldplay, Yellow (released 2000) to the title cards rolling to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue (released 2010), at times the music to the film follows the same chronological course as the movie itself. Any film that hops from an a cappella version of Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time to a Von Trapp family style sing-a-long is pretty unbeatable to my ears. Also, in his role as a musician, Ethan Hawke contributes a few acoustic bars to the soundtrack and his rant about the back catalogue of The Beatles members' solo work even had a hardened anti-Beatler semi-seduced. 

From Patricia Arquette's peroxide bouffant in True Romance to Ethan Hawke's more recent blond-tipped up do, the cast of Boyhood come from some serious hair pedigree, but the kids win out in the film. We witness some pretty unruly bangs and corkscrew curls courtesy of Lorelei's character, Samantha and as she enters the movie's second half, the clash of the red-tinged dye-job with the once ubiquitous rainbow-coloured braces is discomforting, primarily because of its familiarity to many. Ellar gets the roughest end of the stick though, his growing teen angst is best exemplified in the state of his barnet; his lustrous young locks, buzzed away only to grow back as a grease laden mop. Though he was spared the braces, the sprouts of hair that materialise on his upper lip and between his eyebrows have an honesty and accuracy that's sustained throughout more-or-less every minute of the film.


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the sagrada familia