The first section of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood features a brief, seemingly throwaway scene where little Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is helping his mom clean up the home they’re leaving. She directs him to the doorway, where small marks track the growth of Mason and his sister through the years they’ve lived there. When I first saw the film at Sundance, this stuck out as a key image: Linklater seems to be doing the same with this quietly tremendous picture (shot in bits and pieces over a dozen years, tracking its protagonist from age six to 18), creating a cinematic time capsule, a narrative riff on Michael Apted’s acclaimed Up documentaries. But upon further investigation, Boyhood reveals itself as something deeper, more noteworthy and ambitious than even its remarkable production would suggest, for Linklater has given us nothing less than a cinematic approximation of human memory.
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