Critics aren't just calling Boyhood the movie of the year—they're calling it one of the greatest movies of all time. Director Richard Linklater actually shot the coming-of-age story over 12 years, allowing audiences to watch actor Ellar Coltrane literally come of age onscreen. The results are apparently breathtaking; as of this writing, the movie is at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 86 reviews counted. Here are some highlights:
- Dana Stevens at Slate calls it a "gradually unfolding miracle." "I can think of few feature films in the history of the medium that have explored the power, and the melancholy, of film’s intimate enmeshment with time" in this way, she writes. "Compressed into the space of under three hours, growing up seems as inexplicable a feat as a magic trick."
- "It’s fundamentally a story about ordinary life in nondescript Middle American suburbia," writes Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, and it does run long, as Linklater lingers on scenes. "But capturing the texture of ordinary life—the moments that would be excised from any normal movie—is pretty much the point." For O'Hehir, "it comes awfully close to a masterpiece of American moviemaking."
- It's "one of the most extraordinary films in decades," gushes Claudia Puig at USA Today. "Linklater infuses his film with empathy, humor, and soulfulness. We emerge almost shaken, with a breathtaking sense that we have witnessed something authentic, uplifting, and profound." Somehow across all those years the tone remains dazzlingly constant, and "the four actors' emotional investment is palpable."
- "I’m always skeptical about films that emerge from the thin mountain air of the Sundance Film Festival wreathed in rave reviews," writes Lou Lumenick at the New York Post. But Boyhood "pretty much lives up to the hype at sea level." It's "a heady film experience packed with so many telling details about life in the United States over the past 12 years."
- "Want to know what it's like to be in on the discovery of a new American classic? Check out Boyhood," advises Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. It'll make you "feel euphoric about movies, about their mystery, their power, their ability to move us to laughter and tears." Linklater takes his place among the great directors, while Coltrane "gives a performance that will be talked about as long as audiences talk about movies."
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