We have been gifted two outstanding films at this year's NZIFF, one of them the inspirational Kiwi outing The Dark Horse, and the other, Richard Linklater's breathtakingly enduringly Boyhood.
The film came heavy with critical acclaim, almost unprecedented in fact, there has been barely a word said against it after its debut at Sundance earlier this year. It was top of my list of films I was most excited about seeing, and joyously, it didn't even come close to disappointing.
There has of course been much talk about the simple yet daring way Linklater set about making his movie. Over a decade ago he cast a 6-year-old Ellar Coltrane to play his lead role of Mason Jr, a role he would play for 12 years.
Along with perennial collaborator Ethan Hawke, actress Patricia Arquette and Linklater's own daughter Lorelei Linklater, he weaved his Boyhood story, joining his actors every year or two to shoot the next chapter in their lives, Mason always central to his narrative.
We are watching him grow up, and the more we watch, and listen, the closer we become to these characters.
Just like his magical Before trilogy, it's in the dialogue - the conversation and interaction - where Linklater so expertly guides us into the heart and soul of his characters, and I am yet to find a filmmaker out there who has gifted me the insight into the human condition, and the relationships and connections we form than Richard Linklater has. Nowhere else is this more evident than with Boyhood.
It's only natural as an audience member that we find ourselves projecting our own personal hopes and fears and experiences onto stories shared, something that will either add or subtract from watching a film.
So as a mother of a young boy, a boy who will grow up as Mason does, into a teenager and a young man, this film felt like the gift of knowledge and insight, and it was a beautiful thing. It carries an intoxicating affirmation that we each are so uniquely individual, while sharing common very basic wants and needs.
Curating Mason's story and life are his parents, separated from one another but devoted to their two children, and played to perfection by Hawke and Arquette. Both so flawed and so real, like all Linklater's creations, and both are wonderful to watch.
But of course it's Ellar Coltrane, Mason Jr, who is our hero. And what a pure and unmitigated pleasure it was to get to know him.
Given my love for his Before trilogy it was hard to imagine loving another of his films more, but Boyhood transformed me, it's Linklater's best yet, and I cannot wait to watch it many more times to come.
:: Director: Richard Linklater
:: Starring: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Elijah Smith, Steven Chester Prince, Bonnie Cross, Marco Perella, Libby Villari, Jamie Howard, Andrew Villarreal
:: Running Time: 166 mins
More information about this film is available on the official 2014 New Zealand Film Festival website.
source: newshub archive