Peter Travers has been raving about Richard Linklater’s new opus, Boyhood, since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. But now that it’s finally hitting theaters across America he’s taken to At the Movies to further expound its magnificence, calling the film “a new American classic.” Not only is it the best movie of the year so far, according to Travers, the critic says it wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still at the top of his list come December.
Linklater has been working on this project intermittently for the past 12 years: In 2002, he cast then-seven-year old Ellar Coltrane as Mason, the story’s young protagonist; for about a week each year, Linklater gathered his cast and filmed a chapter in the life of this child growing up with divorced parents, played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. As Travers notes, it was an incredibly risky way to make a movie, one that could’ve been derailed by an actor’s death or illness — or if, say, Coltrane decided at age 12 that he didn’t want to perform anymore.
“Nothing goes wrong with it,” Travers says. “And what you watch is somebody change and develop until he’s on the brink of college… The performances of Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are as good as they’ve ever been, but it’s this boy Ellar Coltrane who you won’t forget.”
While the story itself may sound familiar — Mason must grapple with the pangs of growing up while his mother brings home crummy boyfriends and his father remains a fleeting presence — Travers says, “Richard Linklater turns it and lifts it to the level of art.”