SFIFF57 Report: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”



Richard Linklater has a penchant for playing with time. From the “Sunrise” series we saw this embracing of time and life, as each film was made six or seven years apart when the main two actors had grown physically seven years older and their characters had followed suit. This playing with time is not, however, a manipulation of time, or a “sculpting in time” as has been discussed in the past; rather, it is more of an embracing of the human potential that time offers. It is letting time occur, and working within time’s passing.

Boyhood is exactly that – it is constructed through the passing of time. If each film in the “Sunrise” series is a moment in time, “Boyhood” is a collage of consecutive moments in time. The result is a resounding success.

The topical scope is enormous – we follow not only a boy (played by Ellar Coltrane), but the lives of his family (father Ethan Hawke, mother Patricia Arquette, and sister Lorelei Linklater) as they progress through these twelve years. In the process we see the effects of divorce, abuse, joys, sorrows, awkwardness, death, art, sexual awakening, discovery of drug and alcohol use, and so on; while, simultaneously, seeing the parents themselves grow, and the exploration that parents are quite often no more certain of life, and just as much children as the children themselves.

His style is thoroughly naturalistic and real. There are very few creative or stylistic flourishes except for the frequent use of popular music to represent transit through time; the focus is almost entirely on the characters in very simple ways. It is a beautiful, emotional and intelligent exploration of life and development, and it was a privilege to hear him speak at the screening about his other work and then this piece.

I can’t recommend this film enough.


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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival


  1. Days of Summer #5: Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” (1993) | Filmbalaya.com - June 13, 2014

    […] Richard Linklater, one of the greatest living American filmmakers, has made a career out of telling slice-of-life stories with enormous insights into the human condition. Part auteur and part anthropologist, Linklater is not only responsible for cinema’s definitive love story with Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, but also has given us a string of strong character-driven work with Slacker, Waking Life, Bernie, Tape, plus enjoyable mainstream fare like School of Rock. I haven’t seen it yet as of this writing, but Filmbalaya’s own Tom Ellis suggests Linklater has reached a new benchmark with Boyhood. […]

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