It kicks off with Coldplay’s “Yellow”, the first of many great music cues in the film. I’ve always loved that song and it always felt cinematic to me, which is the first of many moments of resonance for me in the film.
The other thing you realize right from the get-go is that writer-director Richard Linklater really lucked out when he cast Ellar Coltrane, the young actor he would depict growing up from 6 to 18 years old. You’re immediately taken in by his big expressive eyes and by his very natural performance.
Linklater’s daughter Lorelei is also good as Coltrane’s sister, though she’s a bit more of the precocious, cutesy type. Then you’ve got seasoned pros in Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the divorced parents and they’re as solid as you would expect them to be. Together, these four actors form a very believable family who we quickly grow to care about as they go through various ups and downs.
Even though the film lasts 165 minutes, it doesn’t feel long because the storytelling is so effortless, skillfully using ellipses to capture 12 years in the life of a boy and his family. It’s endlessly fascinating to watch Coltrane and the others get older right in front of us; kids especially change so fast!
It’s also interesting to catch the little bits of current events and pop culture sprinkled through the film as we go through a decade and change, which, again, make us marvel at how fast time goes by!
That’s the main thing about “Boyhood”. Some drama happens here and there, but for the most part, this is a thick slice of life or a hanging out movie, very much in the vein of Linklater’s “Slacker”, “Dazed and Confused” and the “Before” trilogy…
And then it ends with Arcade Fire’s “Deep Blue”, the last of many great music cues in the film.