Remember the 1964 film 7 Up? It was the first in a series of extraordinary documentaries that profiled a classroom of seven-year-old British kids, who were then revisited and filmed by director Michael Apted at seven-year intervals to see how their lives were turning out. (They were 56 in 2012, when Apted last checked in.)
The evolution of lives and stories in real time is not something the movies often do. In fiction films, especially, stories are telescoped into dramatic highlights with actors of various ages playing the same part at different stages of life.
Which is why Richard Linklater's Boyhood is so refreshingly audacious. Linklater had the simple, yet brilliant idea to shoot a scripted film over a period of 12 years, allowing his cast—including his child protagonists—to age naturally onscreen.
Ellar Coltrane (in the central role of Mason) was seven years old when the film started shooting in 2002, and 18 when it wrapped last year. One minute, little Mason is sniggering over a lingerie catalogue with his schoolyard buddies, then he's encountering bullies, experiencing his first fast-food job and the first stirrings of romance, and waxing philosophical about robotic mind control and the meaning of life. Nothing much remarkable occurs as the narrative evolves, but it all feels so achingly true.
|Ellar Coltrane grows up before our eyes|