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Linklater’s ‘crowning achievement’ Could real-life ‘Boyhood’ grow into Oscar?

LOS ANGELES, July 18, (AFP): It already won a top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, but Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking “Boyhood” is being talked about for the ultimate movie accolade, an Oscar. As it opened in the United States on Friday, trade journal Variety said plainly that Linklater deserves an Academy Award for the nearly three-hour film. In an unprecedented filmmaking process, the US director depicts the formative years of his main protagonist and his family using the same actors, shot over 12 years. “Even though it’s only July, it’s hard to imagine watching a better-made movie in 2014 than ‘Boyhood,” said Variety, noting: “No other film has ever been made this way.”
 
From 2002 until 2013, the actors met in secret each year to shoot the movie, which follows an average middle-class family in the southern state of Texas. Mason Jr, the eldest child of Olivia Mason — played by Patricia Arquette — and Ethan Hawke draws the filmgoer into a story that mixes fact and fiction. “I was very excited about it, about the idea of watching the life cycle of a boy growing up like that,” said Arquette, whose character becomes a single mom and fights for her children against all odds. Linklater is known for his obsession with time. It is at the heart of his acclaimed trilogy about a couple over the decades: “Before Sunrise” (1994), “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight.”
 
Those films also star Hawke, along with French actress Julie Delpy. But he goes further with “Boyhood,” where the passage of time is the only force driving the narrative forward, as the characters grow up before the viewers’ eyes. Mason, the son, comes of age at the same time as the actor who plays him, Ellar Coltrane, who was seven years old when filming started, and 19 by the end. His sister Samantha is played by Lorelei Linklater, the director’s own daughter. The movie depicts the characters’ marriages, separations, new friends, joys, traumas and first loves, ending with Coltrane starting college. Arquette says the film works above all because “there’s a very human element, and it’s not about manipulation.” Linklater “didn’t do what you are supposed to do in an entertainment movie,” she told AFP.
 
“His interest is in really deeper relationships, communication, honesty, discovery and time.” Since its first outing at the Sundance Film Festival in January, “Boyhood” has won multiple awards. The Berlinale gave Linklater a Silver Bear for best director in February. Critics have also lavished praise on the film, hailing the simplicity and natural way Linklater depicts the transition from childhood to adulthood. The actors were pleasantly surprised by how the film turned out in the end.
 
Even though all of them were involved in writing the screenplay, no one really knew what Linklater would make of it all. At one point his own daughter, bored with the multi-year project, asked if her character could die. Her father said no. Arquette, who won an Emmy in 2005 for her role in the TV series “Medium,” said she deliberately didn’t ask to see the film before it was finalized. “He showed me five years put together at one point, and then I said I didn’t want to see it again until it was all finished,” Arquette said.
 
For the actress, making the film was a “unique experience” and a challenge, notably because of the physical changes in all the actors that had to be taken into account. But she said didn’t find it difficult to get inside her own character. “I found a lot of my mom in her and of myself. For some strange reason It wasn’t hard, and I don’t know why,” she said. Variety called the film Linklater’s “crowning achievement.” “No other American director has done a better job of capturing the verisimilitude of ordinary life,” it added.

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