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a movie about the life of Mason, his sister Samantha, and his parents (played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who in the film are divorced from the beginning). What is so unique about the movie is that the same cast plays the family, filmed over 12 years (Mason must have been about 6 or 7 when the film starts). The concept is really innovative, but the result is stunning and emotionally powerful. We get to see this family, and the political and social culture in which it is embedded, change as Mason grows up; the music choices as well as the headlines that captured national attention – the zeitgeist – so wonderfully reflect those years of American life. We get a glimpse of what the world looks like to Mason and from his viewpoint and experience his life through traditions like birthdays, vacations, school, graduations, first love, experimentation with drinking, and going off to college. The reason this works so well, is that we see the “real” Mason and the same cast; there is something quite exciting about watching the natural passage of time and how each member of the family changes. Each of the years blends smoothly into the next (there are no transition slides that tell you the year; you know that time has passed, and I was excited to see what being a year older would bring to Mason). The family is one most of us can related to on some level. A huge thumbs up for a movie I did not want to end, but that just does not seem like enough accolades for a movie that allowed me a really fascinating opportunity to remember what it was like to be a kid growing up and to gain clarity what the world looks like from the eyes of a millennial boy. As a parent, I loved watching this film, and I was constantly reminded of the beauty and wisdom of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood (and maybe gaining a bit of confidence as a parent of young kids). The director’s Before Sunrise trilogy was brilliant, but I think he outdid himself with Boyhood. (2014; 5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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