Linklater's family saga, 12-years to make, captivates Berlin

Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:04pm EST
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By Gareth Jones

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. director Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" which portrays an American family over a 12-year-period as the two children mature into young adults has emerged as a leading contender for the top award at this year's Berlin film festival.

The movie, shot at regular intervals from 2002 as the actors steadily aged, is a tender meditation on the passage of time, the messiness of human relationships and modern American life.

More than 160 minutes long, the film delighted viewers at Thursday's showing at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival and drew glowing praise at both the post-screening news conference and on social media.

Linklater, best known for his romantic trilogy "Before Sunrise", "Before Sunset" and "Before Midnight", said it was a "leap of faith" to embark on such a long-term project.

"You can't contract anyone to do anything over (such a long period), and much less a kid ... Getting a six-year-old to agree to do something for 12 years, I mean, that's technically illegal, I think," said Linklater, who is from Houston, Texas.

"Everything about this movie was just different. It's a very independent, low budget film but it's kind of epic," he said.

"We had 143 scenes that we shot in ultimately 39 days (over the 12 years) with a huge crew for a small film. Everything about it was just unlike anything I've ever experienced."

The film focuses on Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, from about the age of 6 until he leaves for college at 18. It shows his evolving relationships with his divorced parents, his elder sister Sam, schoolmates and his mother's succession of partners.   Continued...

Director, screenwriter and producer Richard Linklater and cast members Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane and Patricia Arquette (L-R) pose during a photocall to promote the movie "Boyhood" during the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz