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One of the best movie experiences I've ever had
My mom and I just watched this movie today. It is one of the best movie experiences I've ever had. Since it took 12 years in the making, the characters literally age as the story progresses: stemming from early childhood, to adolescence, to high school graduation. This is one of those movies that could only be done once with the right actors, writing, directing, and time period to pull it off, and it achieved just that. From a personal stand point, it was kind of refreshing seeing the events of 2002-2014 (basically around my generation) being played out, while keeping the focus of the characters themselves. This movie does not hide anything or give any attempt to sugar-coat what people go through in life. There isn't one aspect of this film that didn't feel fake or out of place, it showed what it needed to show. When it came to abusive relationships, experimenting sexual desires, even childhood angst, the characters have real conversations that other parents use to talk to their kids. No matter what age the kids were in, no subject was too taboo to talk about when it came to each stage of growth and development.
Writer/Director Richard Linklater is known for taking seeming mundane conversations and giving them meaning through character interaction. In his previous films, "Before Sunrise" (1995), "Before Sunset" (2004), and "Before Midnight" (2013), Linklater has two of the same characters, played by Ethan Hawk and Julie Delpy, interact with each other as they stroll around Europe. The first film shows them meeting for the first time and taking advantage of the day to spend time with one another as they talk about their lives. The second movie has them meet up years later in a different location, with two separate lives and relationships. This movie took that concept of the "Before" trilogy and took a "Truman Show"-like approach where you watch the characters age through their everyday lives.
This film has used the same actors, and literally watch them age as they experience new things. There's no need for other actors playing older roles in this. The young actor, Ellar Coltrane, especially goes through the waves of time as he discovers new things as he shapes into an adult. It feels gratifying to know that this actor won't go through the Miley Cyrus approach knowing that he spent his time aging through a film instead of growing up keeping the title as a kid performer. He spent his time as a kid, and is now a young adult as he looks back on this movie.
I've been waiting for a movie like this to arrive for quite some time, not in the way I would have expected, but a pleasant experience none the less. It is definitely a breakthrough achievement in film making, and I hope it continues to surprise us viewers in the years to come.