Boyhood (R)

Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”
Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

Movie Info

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater.

Writer-director: Richard Linklater .

An IFC Films release. Running time: 165 minutes. Vulgar language, drug use. In Miami-Dade: Coral Gables Art Cinema, South Beach, Aventura; in Palm Beach: Palace.

Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

Linklater has worked in various modes before — straight-up Hollywood movies (The Bad News Bears, School of Rock, The Newton Boys), experimental animation ( Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly), even a combination of documentary and fictional narrative ( Bernie). But the approach he uses in Boyhood is the same one he took for his Before trilogy ( Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight), a subtle, inobtrusive style that makes you feel as if you were peering into the lives of real people going about their humdrum business. There is no score in Boyhood, no title cards or montages, nothing to come between you and the film. We notice Mason’s growth by his changing hairstyles and loss of baby fat and upgrading of video game systems (his sister’s sudden growth spurt is another indicator). Gradually, this pear-shaped little kid becomes a tall, lean, kind teenager. There’s nothing extraordinary about him, which is what makes him so intriguing. He’s not a stand-in for the audience — he’s his own distinct person — but you’ve probably met people like him in real life, which is what gives the picture its transfixing power. You are literally watching a young man grow up before your eyes.

Coltrane, who is chatty and eloquent in real life, plays Mason as a quiet, observant kid who absorbs elements of his parents’ personas: His dad’s arrested-development, let’s-have-fun enthusiasm (he still drives a GTO) and his mom’s sense of responsibility and duty. The movie could have easily been called Motherhood, because Arquette’s journey — going back to school to earn her degree so she can get a better job, enduring two bad marriages, preparing herself for the inevitable day when her kids will leave the nest — is just as arresting as Mason’s. Arquette taps into the same sort of natural non-acting Hawke helped perfect in the Before movies, so you never feel like you’re watching movie stars pretending to be parents. They feel like a real couple, with a rocky history behind them, trying to work out their differences for the sake of their children.

Boyhood understands the tumult of puberty and adolescence as well as it does the hardship and satisfaction of raising children. The miracle Linklater pulls off is that the picture (which runs almost three hours) will fascinate viewers of all ages, whether it’s reminding you of your parents or evoking what it’s like to nurture a family. The movie is filled with seemingly inconsequential moments that make you smile in recognition, such as Mason’s quiet tantrum when his father tells him he’s not giving him his GTO, or a scene in which Mason and some friends find a sawblade and start throwing it around (boys play such potentially dangerous games, it’s a wonder so many of them grow up to become men).

The movie isn’t all warm hugs and nostalgia. Linklater reminds you that growing up has plenty of unpleasant hardships, too. But he avoids all the expected cliches — Mason’s first crush, his first kiss, the loss of his virginity — in favor of dinners and outings and the sort of simple moments that mysteriously stick with you, for no apparent reason other than the way you felt at the time. When a mopey Mason asks his father what life is all about, his dad replies “We’re all just winging it. The good news is you’re feeling stuff, you know? And you’ve got to hold on to that. You get older, and you don’t feel as much, your skin gets tough.” This remarkable, wonderful movie helps you remember.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">“Life After Death”:</span> Zach (Dane DeHaan) finds his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is behaving strangely after somehow coming back from the dead.

    Life After Beth (R)

    Life After Beth starts out as a cracked, comical take on Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Zach (Dane DeHaan) is a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza). At home, his parents patronize him and his older brother (a funny Matthew Gray Gubler) bullies him, so he starts spending time with the late girl’s family (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). Being with them make him feel closer to Beth, even though they seem to be acting fairly calmly in light of such a calamity.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Magic in the Moonlight’:</span> Colin Firth is a stage magician trying to disprove the abilities of an acclaimed psychic (Emma Stone).

    Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

    The inherent problem in cranking out a movie (sometimes two!) every year, as Woody Allen has been doing for the last 34 years, is that some of them are inevitably going to be dogs. Does someone have a gun to the filmmaker’s head that forces him to proceed with half-baked, joyless comedies such as Magic in the Moonlight instead of tossing bad ideas out and starting fresh? This is, at best, a 20-minute TV episode extended to feature length, and the stretch marks show. Boy, do they show. That’s practically all you can see, really.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category