Blue sky, a boy looks at it with hope and innocence in his face and Coldplay are signing: “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you.” This is how the best film of this year’s Berlinale starts. Like a dream. In the next almost three hours we will see the little Mason growing up, seeing his and his parent’s lives change, moving to new houses and cities, falling in love, and all this in one of the most well-told adulthood story we have even seen in big screen. 

Every year form 2002, Richard Linklater gathered together the same actors for this unique film that allows the viewer to observe the members of a family to live their lives, grow, and change over a long period of time. Linklater follows Mason from the time that he is a 6 years old boy, up to his first day in college. Mason and Samantha (who was portrayed by Lorelei Linklater, Richard Linklater’s own daughter) are the two kids of a separated couple and have not seen their father (Ethan Hawke) for one and a half year while he was travelling in Alaska. Their mother (Patricia Arquette) a truly beautiful character, is a woman that doesn’t stop to search for love after her split up with Masor Senior and tries in the meanwhile to finish her studies, so her kids to have a better future.

Boyhood is a special film that I feel blessed to have seen at its European premiere in Berlinale 2014. The film is a magic collage, a time capsule of the best of America from the last twelve years, a poem to growing up. Little Mason is a simple kid that lives its childhood in a regular but also unique way: he is playing, he is dreaming, he is thinking about the people surrounding him, he is growing. Mason is accompanied by his sister, a terrific character that offers the audience laughter and joy, while his parents are the definition of what we say beautiful people. People regular as their son, but people that they never surrender and always are trying for something better. People that have thoughts and ideals and trying to grow their children, the best possible way.

Of course above all the thing that makes Linklater’s film so special is the magnificent script he wrote and his direction that should be taught in film schools, not only because it’s so cool (and awarded with the Berlin Silver Bear) but also because he achieved it in a passing of twelve years, employing remarkable patience and faith to his project. He also gets the best out of his cast, young and older and all these with the companion of a wonderful soundtrack that travels us a few years back, only to bring us to the magnificent present, where little Mason is not anymore little, but a teenager with concerns, a child who hates facebook, and seeks communication with those around him, trying to understand how the world works and begin his search of the meaning of the life.

Through the frames of the Linklater’s film ( Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Before Midnight, Dazed and Confused, A Scanner Darkly) you will see also America growing up along with Mason and Samantha. You will see Mason Senior (Hawke) to hate George Bush Jr. and his wars and supporting Obama later, as well us the crazy people from Texas with their guns (Linklater himself is from Texas). And all this just so simple and natural, given with plenty of humor, which will make us yearn our own moments of childhood and will put relevant questions about the meaning of life, companionship, the time that passes quickly. Sounds serious heh? Surprise surprise, Linklater makes a movie about all this without being dramatic, without a tear, but with pervasive optimism. Boyhood is ultimately a moving, simple, magical hymn to life and this is why it is such a special film. 

Grade: 4.5/5

Written and directed by Richard Linklater
with Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater
Production: USA 2013
Runtime: 164 min

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