Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ nearly perfect, critics agree

Ellar Coltrane stars in "Boyhood," filmed over 12 years.
(IFC Films)

The 12 years Richard Linklater spent making “Boyhood” appear to have been time well spent. The coming-of-age drama starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelai Linklater (the director’s daughter) and shot over more than a decade is garnering nearly unanimously positive reviews.

It currently boasts a “100% fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 99 out of 100 on Metacritic, making it the best-reviewed film of the year thus far.

The Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey writes that Linklater has delivered “an extraordinarily intimate portrait of a life unfolding and an exceptional, unconventional film in which not much else occurs. Never has so little meant more.” She adds, “There is wonder to be found in the very ordinariness of ‘Boyhood,’” and “even after nearly three hours, I didn’t want the movie to end.”

The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis says “Boyhood” is a “tender, profound film.” She writes, “Radical in its conceit, familiar in its everyday details, ‘Boyhood’ exists at the juncture of classical cinema and the modern art film without being slavishly indebted to either tradition. It’s a model of cinematic realism, and its pleasures are obvious yet mysterious. Even after seeing the film three times, I haven’t fully figured out why it has maintained such a hold on me, and why I’m eager to see it again.”


Claudia Puig of USA Today declares “Boyhood” “one of the most extraordinary films in decades,” and “one of the most ambitious in scope.” And yet, Puig says, “it comes across as effortless and unassuming. ‘Boyhood’ is an epic masterpiece that seems wholly unconcerned with trying to be one.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern similarly hails the film as an “endearing epic” that is “not only rare but unique.” Arquette and Hawke are “superb,” and Coltrane “turned out to be an inspired choice.”

Slate’s Dana Stevens says “Boyhood” is “as transcendent as it is ordinary, just like life.” The Village Voice’s Stephanie Zacharek calls it “a quiet stunner of a movie that yields to time rather than try to bend it to its will.” The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick says it’s “remarkable” and “pretty much lives up to the hype.” And so on.

A negative review or two may yet emerge to tarnish the film’s sterling scores, but it’s probably safe to say moviegoers won’t see another movie quite like “Boyhood” anytime soon. Not for another dozen years, at least.

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