|A young Ellar Coltrane in "Boyhood"|
Released a year after the last film in his “Before” series, and beginning production a year before the previous film was started, Boyhood’s remarkable trait is one familiar to fans of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. Following a boy from the beginning of First Grade until his high school graduation, the film was shot over twelve years, using the same actor in each part throughout the venture. Its working title was 12 Years, until last year when Linklater worried it’d be confused with 12 Years a Slave upon release. But I can’t think of the title that can convey the quiet, unassailable profundity achieved here by Linklater and his team. It entailed casting a seven-year-old in a central role, and various adults and pre-teens around him, hoping they’d be able to carry off each segment with their performance, that they’d be available the same time each year to film together, and that they’d all survive long enough to finish the project. Linklater reportedly asked Ethan Hawke to complete the film if he died. The death of an actor, though, however tragic, would have been written in, as apparently other things were. Again in the tradition of the “Before” series, the script was written over the shooting period, with all the major actors playing a part in the writing; sometimes a scene was finished the night before it was filmed. And it was adapted and developed to everything the slowly maturing Ellar Coltrane was experiencing in his life.