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This later chunk of Richard Linklater’s career is marked by films that have something going for them beyond just the story being told, from the animation style of A Scanner Darkly to the faux documentary about real events of Bernie. Almost topping the nine-year gaps between the films of his Before trilogy is the production story behind Boyhood, his coming of age drama twelve years in the making. The film will be making its debut in the most natural place imaginable, at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. We’re assuming they’re showing the entire film, and not just the first of 12 annual ten minute chunks.
Those attending Sundance can catch the film’s special preview screenings starting next Sunday, January 19 at the Eccles Theater. To mark the announcement, Sundance released two new stills from the film. This isn’t the kind of movie that revolves around some big mystery, so the images don’t give away anything too revealing, but we do get to see the main character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) at two different ages. And if that isn’t the main draw of watching this time-lapsing film, then I’m not sure what is. The second image is below.
The film stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the parents of Mason and Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Filmed for a week or two at a time once a year from 2002 through 2013, Boyhood doesn’t appear to be about a specific story, but rather a journey into the lives of these characters from one year to the next, and how time informs relationships just as much as the limited events that most films’ timeframes cover.
This is also a longer film, with a runtime of 164 minutes. It’s still a bit of a mystery at this point how the footage will be dispersed throughout the film, but there’s enough room to fit quite a few of Linklater’s signature conversation pieces. It will be a challenge for such an approach to carry the rewatchability of a more traditional film, but this is one of the few directors who could pull such an experiment off.
Even with such a novel hook, Boyhood will still have to work hard to stand out against the other 120 features that will be screening at this year's Sundance, with 35 in competition. Below you can watch Linklater and Hawke hinting at the project back in 2001 when they were promoting the conversational drama Tape.