How many of us can say we knew who or what we would become when we were young? During our formative years, the blossom of youth began to mold and form us into the future adults we would become. Family members, friends, peers and even the media played a part in our development. Recently I was sitting with relatives looking at old photographs and was fascinated with their reactions to seeing themselves. The majority scowled, looking like they had just bit into a sour piece of fruit. They would quickly turn the photo over to get it out of their eyesight. As I watched them I was recalling my impressions of them when they were young, compared to who they were now. It was curious to see how our life experiences altered each of us. Where some events seemed major back then, today they appeared inconsequential; however, they did steer each of us in a different direction. If photographs could initiate these thoughts imagine what would happen if your life was being documented year to year. WRITER and director Richard Linklater (Me and Orson Welles, Dazed and Confused) had an audacious idea for a movie, to film the life of one boy for 12 years. This film festival wining drama was the end result as it followed the life of Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane (Fast Food Nation, Lone Star State of Mind), from a young 6 year old until he reached 18 years of age. Ethan Hawke (Sinister, Snow Falling on Cedars) and Patricia Arquette (Ed Wood, True Romance) played his father and mother, while relative newcomer Lorelei Linklater played his sister Samantha. The story was simple and straightforward as the movie viewer became a witness to the family’s reactions to life throughout the years. I found myself taking a different mindset while I watched this film. There were no surprises or twists to the story; one simply sat and observed this average family dealing with whatever came their way, like most of us do on a daily basis. The acting was amazing considering the cast would come together once a year and have to pick up where they left off the previous year. A tidbit for you from an interview I read with the director: he would not let the younger cast see playbacks on any of their scenes, only allowing the older cast members because Richard did not want the young actors to be influenced from seeing themselves in their roles. I found it especially unbelievable that the scenes seemed seamless as the story aged. There will be some of you who will feel the story dragged at times and I understand. I enjoy seeing anyone’s old family photographs, so watching this film felt like I was an invited guest of this family.
3 2/3 stars