Sundance '14 Review: Ethan Hawke's BOYHOOD - 12 Years in the Making

In a surprising Sundance twist, director Richard Linklater's long-awaited film, Boyhood, was the last one added to the film line-up at the festival. It quickly became one of the most anticipated films. For those of you not familiar with Linklater's work, he directed Before SunriseBefore Sunset, and Before Midnight, all of which starred Ethan Hawke. Well, years ago Hawke teamed up with him for this very ambitious film project that turned out to be pretty incredible.

What makes this movie so unique is the fact that is was shot over the course of twelve years! It follows the lives of a boy, his sister, and his divorced mother and father. It was quite spectacular watching these kids and the parents grow up throughout the course of the film. Nothing like this has really ever been done before. The closest thing I can compare to is the Harry Potter film series in terms of watching the actors/characters grow older over the course of the franchise. Only this film manages to tell a family's twelve year story in about three hours.

A movie like this might be considered a coming of age story, but it's really kind of a coming of life story. There's so much that happens in the course of a person's life, so many twists and turns and crazy emotions. This movie touches on a lot of the crazy things that life can throw at a person. It's an epic, but quiet, drama about living life. Other movies have tried to do that, like Mr. Holland's Opus, but this one actually pulls it off in a way that feels genuinely honest. 

If you have seen and enjoyed any of Linklater's previous films, then you'll be happy to know that this is definitely one of his best. The writing and direction is top notch storytelling, and it's kind of amazing that he was able to keep it consistent and fresh while shooting it over such a long period of time with incredibly long gaps in between shoots.

It was truly an amazing film, and I loved watching the growth of the actors over the course of the movie and seeing how the story and time molded the characters. During the Q&A after the screening, Ellar Coltrane, the boy of Boyhood, explained that the older he got the more his character began to merge with his own life and personality, which I thought was interesting. After all, you never know what could happen over the course of twelve years.

The movie also starred Patricia Arquette and the director's daughter, Lorelei Linklater, who said that she wanted her dad to kill off her character after a couple years of shooting. Everyone did a wonderful job in the film, and they all gave very natural performances.

I do have to say, though, that the movie is way too long. It was a three hour movie, and it definitely felt like it. There is a lot of stuff that could be cut out, and maybe it will before the movie is released. Like most Sundance films, this will probably get a limited theatrical release. 

If you're looking to see an epic family drama, or are just curious what a movie that was twelve years in the making looks like, then you'll want to check this one out. It truly is something special, and it will be interesting to see if anyone else ever tries to do something like this again.

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