A sheer beauty in filmmaking with grand scope of vision and planning complimented greatly by an engaging and believably dramatic tale of growing up, family and life in general. I was highly anticipating this movie, if even just for the idea of filming parts of a movie over 12 years and I can safely say it does not disappoint. The look through the timelapsing microscope of human behaviour of this boy and the people close around him is amazing to watch and satisfies me that there are still sparkling gems to give cinema a good name every now and then.
Filmed from 2002 to 2013 this lovely change to the coming of age drama sees six year old Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) about to move away from home with his mum Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Each subsequent chapter of the story gives them time to breathe and explore childhood, impending puberty and adolescence with the recurring appearance of divorced husband and father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). The film sweeps through tenderness, upset, turmoil, humour and family drama that feels compelling, real and refreshing.
Director Richard Linklater has crafted a feat of artistic brilliance and the earthy conversations that fill this family’s life feel true, you can sense the joint effort of Linklater and his cast working to make a scene the believable thing it becomes. The moments where dialogue sounds improvised is never a bad thing and only goes to make the film that much better. It’s just an astonishing project and Linklater makes the movie travel forward in time with a gentle touch letting the story do the talking. That and the fact that the movie also looks really good is just another string to Linklater’s bow that he can create a quality movie that pulls at heartstrings and makes you laugh too.
The stories are investable and gritty at times with some heavier topics coming into play that really seize unexpectant quiet patches and make you relate yourself even more into the plot. At my age I think I found the whole unwinding narrative so interesting because I can relate to what happens with Mason Jr. The past and obsessions with video games and the sulky philosophical musings of teenage life were very me and hit the nail on the head of what most people at those ages are like. The surrounding stories on the whole are just as good as the main one concerning Mason Jr. Olivia’s maturing from single mother to college classes and beyond is a powerful thing to see especially concerning the men that come into her life and try to ruin the balance she has with her kids and education. Samantha’s story is ok at best, it’s a character that is better at the beginning that slowly peters out as Mason Jr. becomes more fleshed out and Coltrane takes the reins of the character with more confidence. Mason Sr. is a great addition who becomes more likeable and is that absent father figure written all over, another aspect of growing up I can relate to. There’s profound talks scattered in the later stages of Mason’s story that hit home about the way we as people work within society and the world and in the front seat of his car as he chats about obsessions with screens and how we’re programmed to Facebook and the like it’s right on the money about how most of us go about our daily business. That and the scarily current chat about the likelihood of another Star Wars movie!
The changes in time are perfectly captured through imagery of evolving technology, the soundtrack of background songs firing you into a new year. All in all the way this growing piece of film takes you on a huge scaled journey is impressive and mightily enjoyable. Seeing the two children grow before your very eyes is something so weird yet so magical, in contrast to most films hiring a new actor to play the older character, here you get the same person ageing on screen. It’s incredible. Two word’s but I don’t how to say it as it just is incredible watching all the main players involved grow up in front of you. You somehow feel attached to them and feel for them in their situations and especially near the end where the main four get a photo together that really feels special.
It was much funnier than I expected too and that’s a welcome surprise. The humour is very on point with puberty and family. Also with the start and the younger Samantha you get a lot of comedy as she’s just fantastic near the beginning, a true little star that takes a lot of the scenes out from under the noses of her costars. There’s humour to be found just in seeing the clunky objects of days gone by, a nostalgic trip can’t help but set off a warm buzz inside you. It’s not so funny that you forget how touching this story of growing pains can be though and this mix of styles in the story is nicely handled.
All the actors involved throughout this sprawling treasure are great, really great. They become the people and sometimes it becomes honestly hard to wonder if what happens in the film may actually just be a part of their actual lives! I know it likely isn’t but they all seem like family, they just click together. The supporting cast all do a lot in their smaller roles to add something necessary to the family core and all are exceptional in making this film come to dazzling life and keep that level of interest up.
This film has to be seen to be believed as it just grips you, a brief slow middle does nothing to spoil the movie and it’s cast and story bury into your being and fill you with affirming memories and warmth. Now possibly my favourite film of the year, just thanks to being a cinematic experience and a unique idea that keeps you engrossed from start to finish.