This week, BUFS closes the Fall Season with Boyhood. Fans of Richard Linklater’s films already know that the writer/ director is fascinated by the passage of time—evidenced most notably in his trilogy of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, which spanned its instalments over nine-year intervals and looked at a romantic relationship as an accumulation of experiences, rather than a three-act-long foregone conclusion.
With Boyhood, he takes the idea of compiling an ongoing story to a new level, commencing his shoot in the summer of 2002 and resuming it for a few weekends each summer with the same cast telling the same story until 2014. His young actors, Ellar Coltrane as Mason and Linklater’s own daughter Lorelei as his older sister, grow and change quite naturally over the course of their childhoods, while seasoned pros Patricia Arquette and Linklater standby Ethan Hawke age and mature onscreen alongside them.
The story is a simple coming-of-age tale, unusually free of wild revelations and culminating moments. If it didn’t work, the entire project might come off as a gimmick or a stunt production. Instead, an inspired bit of casting in 2002 pays dividends, as Coltrane’s Mason develops from a dreamy kid into a young adult ready to head off to college in a deeply authentic performance. Linklater’s slice(s) of life approach allows his characters to change with the times, make errors and recover from them, and learn about themselves as we learn about them over time, in moments that might otherwise seem utterly mundane.
Boyhood screens Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Landmark Cinemas, Pen Centre. Visit brocku.ca/bufs for details.