Have you seen the new movie Boyhood? I saw it on Monday night and can’t stop thinking about it.

Directed by Richard Linklater (of Before Sunrise fame), the movie was filmed over a period of 12 years—beginning when the lead actor, Ellar Coltrane, was six years old and continuing until he was 18. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play his parents, and the cast met for a few days in Texas every year. The story is, simply, about a boy growing up. “Time is actually the lead character in the film,” Linklater said.

From the New York Times Magazine:

The project was a leap of faith in almost every sense—for starters, Coltrane (and his parents) was under no obligation to Linklater to return each year and continue the film. “You wouldn’t contract anyone to do something like this for 12 years, much less a 6-year-old,” Linklater says. “My hope was that his parents and him would see this as a positive thing in his life and a fun thing to be involved in every year.” Linklater’s other gamble was that the dreamy, artistic temperament he saw in Coltrane as a child would mature into the smart skepticism and quiet charisma we witness in young-adult Mason. That, in other words, the kid wouldn’t grow up into a dud.

From the New York Times review:

“Let’s face it, we bet the farm on the cumulative effect of identification, on the idea that you would care about this family and be invested in them, not because their dog died, or some fake plotty thing,” [Linklater] said. “Execs are like: ‘Why should we care about this guy? Let’s give him a flaw.’ No. You like him because you’re familiar with him. Why do you like your friends? Because you know them.”

We went to dinner with friends last night and I could have talked about the movie for days. But, for now, here’s the trailer, above. Will you see it? Have you? I’d love to hear what you thought…

P.S. On having a boy.

(Photos via the New York Times)

  1. Such a great film! Nice review :)

  2. I loved it so much. I met my ex-husband’s son when he was 7 and he’s going to be 17 next month so it was so incredible to watch a sped-up version of a boy growing up!

  3. Adored it. Thank you so much for the rec! The scene where Mason sets out for college after Patricia Arquette has her mini breakdown is gripping – made even more so with “Hero” playing in the background.

  4. It’s not playing in Baltimore until August 1! I know it’ll be worth the wait, though.

  5. Yes! Yes, I want to see it. My 2 year old son constantly boggles my mind and I wonder what he will be like as child and teenager so I feel like I have a deep connection to this movie.

  6. I just came back from a vacation in Texas and we happened to stop at a food truck in Austin, TX and started talking to an older gentlemen. He told us about a local boy who he knew that they made this movie about and went on to explain the movie! This was the first time I’ve seen the trailer and cannot wait to watch it!

  7. Oh, I want to see this movie, too – and my friend wrote about it in NY Magazine.

  8. Tried to go last night, but sold out in Chicago. We saw Chef instead which was, to my surprise, delightful! It was playful, touching, upbeat and a happy ending!

  9. I love little boys with all my heart. They grow up to be strong sweet men. At least mine did.

  10. I’m Mom to a 2 year old boy and I kinda agree with the Mosey Blog comment. I feel like the movie might break my boy-momma heart a little!!

  11. Totally agree, Joanna! Some nuances between Mason and his mom when he’s younger would have been great, and a more pronounced disappointment/resentment towards the dad for leaving and then figuring it out a little late would have added depth for sure. Overall thank you so much for posting about it! It was such a special experience for me I had to post :)


    i agree, lauren, i was thinking about it last night and the mother was so strong. (SPOILER ALERT) she raised two amazing children (and sent them to college!) and got multiple degrees herself and got an amazing job. she made really brave, tough choices. and she loved her children so much and was really devoted. i also loved ethan hawke’s character; i think the kids would have been more resentful at times, and also jealous of the new family, but he was just so fun and caring and passionate—and really ended up being a stable, constant figure in their lives. he really grew up, too, during the film. my one issue with the film is that mason didn’t seem to have many (any?) playful fun moments with his mom. they had a great, warm, loving rapport but they didn’t really hang out. maybe that’s me just hoping that i’ll have those moments with my boys growing up? but i would think that if you had that great of a rapport with someone, you would have had to spend some really quality time with them, whether it was an actual activity or just hanging together while you were saying goodnight, etc…i wish we had seen more of that. that might just be a mama of two boys talking, though!

  13. I saw the film last night and really felt like I was experiencing something incredible. I was so moved. And, to address Alex’s concerns about the characters–I am female, grew up in Texas (now living in NYC), and it really resonated with me. I didn’t see Mason’s mother as “sad” and “haggard.” I saw her as incredibly strong, someone doing the best she could with her circumstances,*SPOILER ALERT* which meant leaving everything behind when she need to and included getting a MASTERS degree. And I guess I didn’t see the dad as a “loveable hero” so much as someone who made poor life choices and eventually turned it around. You don’t see movies about people like this enough, in my opinion, and it’s the raw reality that drew me, and so many others, in.

  14. My friend invited me to go with her to see it at MoMA last week, me not realizing it was a special showing and Richard Linklater and the cast were there. It was amazing even seeing the interaction between the castmembers – Ethan Hawke really felt like “Dad” to the two kids. So incredible!

  15. sumo, hello!! it was so nice to meet you the other day. you were so friendly and sweet to the boys. we still have to check out that fro-yo place! :)

  16. I am living in Jordan at the moment and the movie selection is so depressing. The best I can hope for is How to Train Your Dragon 2. Sigh. Not a great city for a former film MA student.

  17. Never heard about this movie but I’m curious about that since I’m pregnant with a boy right now!
    I’m not sure I want to see it though…
    Because I hoped for a girl at first and it took me some work to find positive aspects on having a boy instead. I don’t want the movie to destroy my hard work ;) lol
    Btw, I’ve often thought about you, having two boys and looking totally happy about it, when I needed to find nice examples of mom-to-boys :)
    Have you ever hoped to have a girl instead?

  18. I have not seen it yet, but what an amazing way to have your child experience the processes and creativeness of acting and the film industry and not have to deal with the fame and madness of it all until they are mature enough to handle it. I look forward to seeing it.

  19. Just watching the trailer made me tear up. I don’t know if I’m just extra emotional or what… haha. Hope this opens in a theater where I can go see it!

  20. Alex, the sister actor didn’t get attention because she is the director’s daughter!

  21. I saw your blog post this afternoon as I was looking for a coming-of-age movie to rent because I’ve been feeling particularly reflective. I watched half the trailer (that’s all it took), bought a ticket, and saw the 3:15pm show in Greenwich Village. I loved it. And had never heard of it before you posted. Thanks!

    Also, I live in Battery Park and met you with your sons the other week. I was the Indian woman who chatted about the fro-yo in Battery Place Market.

  22. There was an article in the latest New Yorker about this movie, so I’ve considered seeing it. The New Yorker described it showing a life that everyone can connect to.

    It would have been nice to see more depth in your post. What is it about the movie that made it difficult to stop thinking about it? What did you like about the movie?

  23. Oh wow, I want to see this so badly. I have two boys and just the idea of them growing up is enough to bring a tear to my eye. What a wonderful idea this film is!

  24. This looks so cool – I can’t wait to watch it!

  25. I heard about this and really want to see it.

  26. Just the trailer turned me into a blubbering mess. My little guy turns two on Friday, and thinking about boys growing up is more than I can handle right now! It looks so good, though. Will add it to my list of things to watch when I am feeling more stable. ;-)

  27. cannot wait to see it. The trailer alone puts a lump in my throat. I have a 5 yr old daughter, and I guess it’s the thought of her growing through the years like this is what is bringing out these emotions! xx

  28. Oh my gosh, what a gorgeous film. It really hits you as a parent to see something like this.

    And now you’ve made me teary, right after I put makeup on.

  29. My goodness I suddenly saw my son grow before my eyes! I want to see this!

  30. I love that time is the lead character, as like so many, I am obsessed with the passage of time. And it’s precisely this concept that makes Richard Linklater one of the most interesting American directors working today.

    I live in Vancouver so I have to wait until July 25th to see this film – the anticipation is killing me! I know it will be nothing short of magic.

  31. I think you would also enjoy the documentary ‘American Promise’ that follows two African American boys (one of whom is the directors’ son) for 13 years starting from age 5 as they navigate life in New York City, particularly the prep school and public school system. It’s incredibly intimate, moving, and eye-opening. We see the boys grapple with how other people treat them based on their ethnicity, we see them code-switch, and we hear their questions about why the world operates the way it does. I went to a screening in Chicago where one of the directors, Michèle Stephenson, was there for a Q&A and it was just fantastic. Highly recommend.

  32. Joanna – I live in Carroll Gardens! (Well Gowanus technically, but I live right on Carroll Street) We should totally meet for coffee and talk movies when you guys make the move out to Brooklyn. :)

  33. I can’t WAIT to see this movie! It looks so good and the idea is so clever and unique. I can’t believe they were all able to keep it a secret for so long!

  34. looks interesting..i’ll check it out!

  35. Joanna, I knew you would love it! I think it’s a very special experience. It doesn’t feel as momentous as the Before Sunrise series does, but it’s so subtle and beautiful, and I think the storytelling achievement is HUGE, although it’s so seamless you can hardly see where the effort is. It’s amazing to see how much life can change – not only for the boy, but his parents and sister too – in ten years. When I was a kid, 10 years seemed like forever, and now (at the ripe age of 35) it doesn’t seem that long at all…

  36. alex, i hear your points! i had some mixed feelings, too. without giving too much away, i couldn’t believe that it was never implied that the kids resented their father. i had a few issues with the relationship between mason and his mother, too….i wish we lived closer so we could talk!! xoxo

  37. There’s a screening near me with a Q&A that I’m going to try to make it to next week. If not, I’ll absolutely see it as soon as I can. I’ve been excited about it for some time!

  38. I CANNOT wait to see this movie. It’s not playing anywhere near me until August 15th!

  39. I saw it last night, and honestly I have to say it was extremely hard for me to relate to. I felt the movie was created from an extremely male point of view, and as a female viewer, I was frankly pissed off by a lot of the story choices. The Mother was the typical desperate, struggling, sad, down right haggard female. The absent, drifter father was the lovable hero. I also wonder why the actress who played the sister hasn’t gotten any attention in the press for her 12-year role from childhood to adulthood… Oh god, do I sound like one of those man-hating femi-nazis? I’m really not. But this film really did not sit well with me at all.

  40. I saw the movie on Monday and yesterday my husband remarked that our son would be a teenager in less than two years. I nearly cried. Between the film and reading Roz Chast’s book, I have been thinking a lot about the stages of childhood and parenting this week. Beautiful film (and book) though–glad that you mentioned both so others will experience them!

  41. I’m excited to see this movie–what an interesting concept! Fun fact: right after I graduated from college, I used to babysit for Richard Linklater’s kids, including his daughter who is in the movie. We’re both from Austin :)

  42. Oh this looks beautiful. I would love to see it!

  43. mosey, that’s such an interesting comment—i can totally relate! i always catch myself desperately wishing that i could slow time down…

  44. Best movie I’ve seen in years. I saw an early release of the film in Spring and can’t wait to see it a second time. Never have I seen a film about growing up ring more true than Boyhood.

  45. Planning to this weekend!

    l loved the article in the NYT two Sundays ago, which said that the beauty of the movie is just that it’s about growing up. There’s no major event, per se – growing up IS the event. I love that. Can’t wait to see it!

  46. I’m 9 months pregnant with a boy (due in a week!) and decided I would go see it one afternoon by myself. I’m not sure if I would have connected so deeply with the film at an earlier (non pregnant) point in my life, but either way, I adored this film. It was so real, so authentic, and so tender. What a gift Linklater has given us!

  47. I loved the Before Sunrise movies -and how great that Ethan Hawke is in it too! I am a mother of two boys so needless to say, this is a must see for me!

  48. I desperately want to see the film but it hasn’t opened where I live yet. We were talking about it at dinner with friends the other day… cannot wait.

  49. I’m so scared of my little 1 year old growing up and away that I know this movie will affect me way too much. So, looks amazing but not sure I can handle it right now.