Time is a funny thing. It sneaks up on us when we're not paying attention, and keeps on ticking even when we do. As young children and adolescents, we aren't yet old enough to consider the bigger picture of how precious and sad and sometimes scary and other times joyous and entirely fleeting our very youth is. As adults with imbued perspective and a bevy of additional experiences under our belts, we are more conscious of the process of life, yet still, year after year, cannot quite believe how quickly it passes us by. "Boyhood" is about all of this and, basically, everything. Chronologically shooting for thirty-nine days over an unheard-of span of twelve years, writer-director Richard Linklater (2013's "Before Midnight") charts with stunning, uncanny verisimilitude the growth of a little boy of six who transforms over the course of a breathtaking 166 minutes into an 18-year-old man. This by itself is startlingly powerful and joltingly cathartic, yet it is Linklater's and his brilliant actors' handling of their all-encompassing material that lifts the film to a level which delves far deeper and becomes more significant than what viewers will be anticipating.
Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is a daydreaming first-grader when we meet him, waiting to be picked up from school while staring off into the clouds. A child of divorced parents, he nonetheless has a reasonably happy home life with struggling but dedicated single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and year-older sister Samantha (Lorelai Linklater). Their dad, Mason, Sr. (Ethan Hawke), has been gone for a while—they have been told he's been working in Alaska—but now he has returned to their home state of Texas and is hoping to be a more consistent figure in his kids' lives. Tired of barely making ends meet, Olivia packs up and moves to Houston with Mason and Samantha as she works on getting a college degree. As Mason ages through several more relocations, different schools, shifting influences and new stepparents, he morphs before the viewer's eyes into a thoughtful teenage boy of quiet introspection and artistic talent, one who is still feeling his way around the whole "growing up" thing. What awaits him on the other side comes with its own set of pressures and responsibilities, something that his forever-evolving parents know firsthand; although they are in their forties by picture's end, they, like Mason and Samantha, are works in progress.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review