When Richard Linklater’s new film, Boyhood, was announced as a last minute addition to this year’s Sundance programming, I found myself in the midst of an internal conflict.  I was fairly certain that this was going to be the hot ticket film of the festival, but I was also intimidated by the film’s 160 minute length.  I feared the possibility that 90 minutes in, I would be struck with the realization that this was indeed the worst film I had ever seen, and would have to do a terrifying “walk of shame” exit from the theater under the disapproving gazes of Linklater and Ethan Hawke.  It took me about two minutes of this film to realize how silly I was for ever having these fears in the first place.

From a filmmaking standpoint, Boyhood is likely one of the most ambitious undertakings ever to hit the big screen.  Sometimes during a post-screening Q&A, you will hear directors and other storytellers bemoan the long and arduous process that it took for them to bring their work to fruition, but for Linklater, this genuinely was a long, and I do mean long, process.  The film’s linear narrative of a young boy’s journey into adulthood, was shot in 36 days spread over the course of 12 years.  Think about that for a moment.  That means signing children to contracts that exceed the span of their entire known lifetime, and also finding investors willing to wait 12 years for even a shot on a return on investment.  The fact that this film was ever made is quite amazing.

As a character piece, this film is absolutely fascinating, but not everybody will be able to take something positive away from this film.  Linklater fills Boyhood to the brim with heavy doses of relevant pop culture references in a bid to play to his audience’s sentimental and nostalgic sides.  For somebody like me, this instantly enables me to identify with the film.  However  you aren’t quite familiar with concepts like Dragonball Z or Bright Eyes the film may begin to drag.

A friend of mine had remarked to me after the screening that the film seemed more like a documentary than a fictional piece, and this is not something that is not too far from the truth. The dialogue in this film ends up sounding extremely natural, and this in turn adds an element of reality to the whole thing.  Initially, some of the film’s conflicts seem a bit mechanically crafted, but as the years progress, we get the impression that the lives of both actor and character have been irrevocably blurred, and the film begins to feel more like truth than fiction.  It is a testament to both this wonderful ensemble cast, as well as Linklater’s directing prowess and vision.

At one point during the screening, I remember thinking “Oh my god… they’ve made a movie about me, and they’ve put it up on the screen”.   I connected with the main character, Mason (Ellar Salmon), in a big way, and because of this, I found myself hopelessly in love this film.   I felt like I knew these characters, and I felt like I lived those stories.  Boyhood truly is a film about the human experience, and this is something everybody can relate to.  Will there be people who struggle with this film?  Certainly.  However, I would be extremely surprised if this doesn’t become standard curriculum for teacher and film professors worldwide. An instant classic.