It is one of the most unusual projects in modern American cinema. The independent film maker, Richard Linklater, perhaps best known for his subtle love story, Before Sunrise". and its sequels, has sought to convey the trials and passions of growing up in his latest project, ‘Boyhood’.
He’s done it by filming over 12 years, for two months every year, with the same cast playing the same characters.
At the heart of the film is Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, first seen as a seven-year-old, who we see growing up over those 12 years, through his parents’ separation, going to new schools and finding first love.
It is a performance already hailed by critics, but why did Coltrane want to take the part when he himself was just six-years-old?
The actor says even at such a young age he was fascinated by cinema: “I was really interested in films as a child. I watched a lot of movies. I definitely understood how bizarre it was and how experimental it was and I’ve always been into bizarre things so that’s a lot of, I think, why I chose to be involved in the project.”
It is a typically ambitious project from Linklater, using several actors who are familiar with his methods; frequent collaborators Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play Mason’s parents.
That, he says, helped to engender a family atmosphere on set: “We had a family unit and not just our cast but the crew, the people who worked on it. There were people who worked 12 years on the film, so a lot of people. Yeah, it felt like kind of a summer family camp every year.”
It is an ambitious attempt to capture the whole of childhood, with a running time of almost three hours, but that space is used cleverly to breath new life into the coming-of-age picture.
Critics have generally hailed ‘Boyhood’ as a triumph, with the famously acerbic British reviewer Peter Bradshaw saying in the Guardian newspaper that it was a movie "I love more than I can say".