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The best depiction of life, unprecedented and impossible to remake.
Director Richard Linklater opens his film with a shot of our main character, Mason, looking up to the sky. To him, the world and its future is unknown to him, though he continues to look up - ready to find what the world has in store for him. The degradation of Mason's view of the world, from the endless possibilities of fantasy to his later realistic view, in Linklater's sprawling 12 year epic, is a constant theme in the story. We see a boy grow up physically as well as mentally, and through the dull moments that make this happen, the extraordinary ordinary shines bright.
Filming for a week each year over the course of 12 years demanded impeccable and unprecedented direction from Linklater, a man sure to go into the hall of greats after his masterful work here, who has to coherently connect the most important parts of this boy's childhood. Avoiding continuity gaps in age, while also not overplaying the seemingly irrelevant, demonstrates the masterful hand of one of cinema's greatest minds.
Both Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke turn in career landmark performances as the mother and father of Mason. Arquette's character is resilient and protective, but not without emotion when it is most demanded. Hawke's character is sometimes self-centered, but loving, ultimately, and helps guide Mason into the man that he becomes. The way in which Linklater directs Mason to who he is is subtle and fulfilled, showing that not everything need be explained, but felt, in the medium of film.
Boyhood is the greatest depiction of normal American life put to film, unrelenting in its grip of understanding and unforgiving in its power. It's unprecedented and impossible to remake. It is unlikely that a film like this will ever be made again, and Linklater has shown himself as a master of the craft. A true American classic that will cement itself into the halls of cinematic history, alongside Forrest Gump, The Godfather, and Citizen Kane, in due time.