A film that took an amazing 12 years to finish, as it literally shows the evolution of the life of a boy, Mason, from the age of 5 until 18.
I have to admit that the idea of this project seemed a bit scary and before watching it I had fears that its duration (165 minutes) might not help the plot roll out equally, that such a personal project might not find connective points with the viewers and in the end might turn up to be one of those films that are simply “Art for art’s sake”.
It was a remarkable experiment to begin with, given that the director would shoot scenes throughout the years, showing us the true development of the characters and actors in that time, not only through their physical appearance, but also their emotional growth. It is amazing to watch in 2.5 hours how a boy becomes a young man, how his character and whole mentality is evolving, how a mother deals with life changing events and in the end and how family evolves and survives.
Richard Linklater, a great storyteller, known for the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight), does an amazing job in capturing the right moments from 12 years in the life of Mason, and making what may began as a series of short films combined, one solid story that narrates the boy’s life. Ellar Coltrane, portraying Mason, is a remarkable young actor that handles this project with the maturity of an established actor while growing up right before our very own eyes! Lorelei Linkwater who portrays Mason’s sister Samantha, is actually the director’s daughter who practically forced herself into the movie after insisting that she would be part of it, lost interest in the project right about the third or fourth year and asked to be killed off. After Linkwater refused to do so, she eventually regained her interest and continued. Like Coltrane, she also gives an amazing performance.