Jamie Neish: Linklater’s Boyhood one for grown ups

Boyhood. Pictured: Lorelei Linklater as Samantha, Ethan Hawke as Dad and Ellar Coltrane as Mason. Picture: PA

Boyhood. Pictured: Lorelei Linklater as Samantha, Ethan Hawke as Dad and Ellar Coltrane as Mason. Picture: PA

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RICHARD Linklater’s Boyhood is this week’s best new release. In fact, it’s the best film of the year so far - a coming-of-age film far superior to most others.

Filmed over twelve years with the same cast, Boyhood - written and directed by Linklater - is one of those rare cinematic boundary pushers that only comes along once in a blue moon.

Charting the evolution of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from boyhood to manhood, the film shifts through the years spontaneously, picking up and dropping off at various points, not all of which are landmark moments.

It’s an ingenious approach that works in the film’s favour to create a realistic, fluid and perceptive portrait of one’s life, from the important (high school graduation) to the minuscule (a Harry Potter book launch).

Linklater’s laid-back directorial style allows for a naturalistic, down-to-earth tone throughout. And the soundtrack, featuring songs from Cat Power to Arcade Fire, is spot-on.

It’s perhaps the performances that earn Boyhood its praises the most, however. For the actors involved to be so committed to the process for so many years is remarkable, and each - Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater and more - deliver beautiful, rich and emotionally raw performances.

The dialogue is at times stilted. But for a film that sails through its potentially off-putting 166 minute run time, that’s barely worth mentioning.

In many respects, Boyhood is what cinema is made for and is an exceptional achievement. One that will go down in history as one of the most innovative films ever made.

I’ve waxed lyrical about a couple of films in this column, Jon Favreau’s Chef being one of them, but if you want to take my word on any of them, then make it Boyhood. It’ll be worth your time.