Many years ago, I was out with some friends for drinks at a pub and the girl sitting next to me, who I had just met, asked me what my favourite movies were. I mentioned, among others, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. She recoiled and said, not even disguising her contempt, “Oh you’re one of those!” I had no idea what I’d said wrong. She later disinterestedly explained that she thought it was talky, pretentious nonsense. I didn’t pursue the argument, because what was I going to tell her? “You’re utterly wrong and you’re an idiot?” That’s not exactly any basis for a discussion and I’ve found, there is no way really to change people’s beliefs. I thought of her when I heard about the ambitious, never-before-attempted-in-the-history-of-film project that is Boyhood and wondered if Linklater could actually pull this off. What if this time, he fell on the wrong side of the very thin line that separates “talky, pretentious nonsense” and conversation between people that reveals some form of truth while still being engaging and entertaining.
I’m happy to say that I watched Boyhood and I was on board right from the moment when 6-year-old Mason explains to his mother why he put rocks in a pencil sharpener. There are many such moments over the next 12 years and it’s hard to really rave about them because then it sounds heavy and overly meaningful which it is not. There is no drama in this film, just the passage of time which brings with it both good and bad. I imagine that girl from the pub asking me, “Okay, cool that he shot for 12 years but what happens? What is the story?” And I don’t have a log-line type answer for her or for anyone who hasn’t watched the film. I just know that watching it was like floating over the formative years of someone’s life and jogging your own memories along the way.
One of my favourite things about the movie was that there is no big signpost to tell you when the next year had arrived. It is seamless and you just go with the flow.
Years have passed and I’m less angry about what that girl said to me about a film I really liked. If she still thinks that way about Linklater’s work and doesn’t watch Boyhood, well, she’s missing out. So will you, if you don’t at least give it a shot.
I loved the movie so much, I went and read everything I could find about it. We’ve compiled a list of pieces that give you everything you need to know about the unique experience that is Boyhood.
The Vulture: A lot of people go into Boyhood expecting to cry, perhaps anticipating a whole lot of maudlin coming-of-age moments that you totally sidestep.
Linklater: Well, it’s the first, obvious thought. And I’m not so uncertain that it wasn’t my first thought, too. Because of all the time I had to shoot this film, I got to work through all those thoughts and go, I’ve seen some of those moments before, are they really that interesting? And it was about getting in touch with my own memories, too — sometimes I remember the details around the event better than the event itself. I never really think of my first kiss much, I think of all the other fun things along the way. And sometimes you’re only an extra when it comes to the big moments from your own narrative.
WTF with Marc Maron
I read so many interviews about Boyhood with Linklater and after a while, the questions became repetitive which is a waste because Linklater has many interesting things to say about many things both directly and indirectly related to the movie. I kept wishing for someone to go really deep in conversation with him and that someone turned out to be Marc Maron in his hour-long talk with Linklater. They talk Boyhood, childhood, movies, families, Linklater’s filmography, and music and it is a pleasure to listen to!
Interview with Ellar Coltrane
The Vulture hangs out with the star of Boyhood:
“On a hot, humid day in Ellar Coltrane’s last spring as a teenager, nothing is going as planned”.
We Went There: Richard Linklater Talks Boyhood with Grantland
I love this profile because of the writer’s enthusiasm. As he puts it:
“having interviewed him a couple of times now, I’ve learned that it’s hard to avoid a good conversation with Linklater.”
How The Boyhood Cast Changed During the 12 Years of Filming
Side-by-side photos of the actors over 12 years.
The Process of Filming Boyhood
Here’s where you get into the technical stuff – production, logistics, storytelling, shooting schedules, editing choices, filmmaking decisions…
Why Lorelei Linklater Wanted Out In Year Three
The oft-told story in the narrative of Boyhood is of how Linklater’s daughter Lorelei who plays the character of Samantha came to him after they had been filming for three years and asked if her character could be killed off. In this interview with The Telegraph, Linklater discusses why he thinks she made this request.
The Songs of Boyhood
Here’s a list of every single song featured in the movie with links where you can listen.
Richard Linklater Talks About Choosing The Music
What was the thought process behind choosing the soundtrack to Boyhood?
“Everything in the movie is attached to something real,” filmmaker Richard Linklater tells TIME. “It all kind of happened in some form or fashion. I wanted the same with the music. I wanted to hear, ‘I just broke up with my girlfriend and I was driving in a car and that song came on the radio and it made me feel like everything was O.K.’ That means something to me, that somebody somewhere had an emotional experience with that song. I didn’t want songs that no one had an opinion about.”
Deadline.com: Were there challenges in working on a project for so long?
Sutherland: There’s always that level of stress in just getting through something that’s so long term, and, amazingly, nothing really did go wrong. We had hiccups here and there with locations. We got booted out of the National Park a few days before we were heading to go shoot our last scene because Ted Cruz shut down the government. We already had scouted the National Park, and we just had to throw all that out. I Googled some pictures of the neighboring State Park and got in touch with them and said, “Guess what? We’re going to come visit you guys instead.”
Interview with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette
The parents of Boyhood, actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, talk to NPR about committing to a 12-year-film, watching the movie for the first time and aging in Hollywood.
Can you guess which movie I’ll be rooting for at the Oscars?