Boyhood, three hours covers 12 real years 

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Even if you didn't download those naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence last weekend the message was impossible to miss: Privacy is the first major casualty of the digital era.

But things like "dedication" and "patience" are also circling the drain in an age of instant communication, real-time cyber ego-boosting, and numerous "how-to" videos for almost anything imaginable just a few keystrokes away. That digital ease of information can make people less prone to tackle complex problems and do the work, make mistakes, persevere and ultimately figure things out on their own. And yet, somehow life goes on.

All this only makes Boyhood, opening Friday at the Whistler Village 8, that much more interesting. It's a nearly three-hour movie filmed over a 12-year timespan using the same actors. Boyhood is a linear coming-of-age film in which the actors and characters really actually do come of age right there on the screen. And if you believe the hype, it's the cinematic event of the decade.

Boyhood director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Midnight, Slacker) has always pushed the envelope of independent filmmaking and is known for producing some of the more emotionally poignant and authentic films of the current era. Boyhood's lead character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is just seven years old at the film's opening and over the next two hours and 45 minutes he lives the ups and downs of childhood, emerging at the end as a 19-year-old young man arriving at college.

It's a neat trick, and perhaps easier to pull off than you'd think. Apparently Linklater only shot for 39 days throughout those 12 years and while the film is a full narrative it also contains true-life moments (such as Obama's election) that add a surreal sense of verité. So while the initial charm of Boyhood lies in its director's scope of vision, the meat of the film rests with Linklater's naturalistic approach to pacing, plot and drama.

Boyhood is a very normal depiction of one American kid and his very normal (crazy) family stretched over those defining years of pre-adulthood. Seemingly mundane events in Mason's life are given as much cinematic weight as the more emotionally charged ones and Linklater sticks with the drawn-out pacing more common in foreign films from a bygone era: Truffaut and Kurosawa both spring to mind.

But it works. Sure, the lengthy runtime will sour some audience members and parents will find more to sink their teeth into than childless adults (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette star as Mason's parents and the film is really as much theirs as the kids') but Boyhood is a film that has never been done, and Linklater pulls it off perfectly.

Interestingly, over the decade-plus that they filmed Boyhood, Linklater and Ethan Hawke also made two sequels to Before Sunrise, their classic minimalist love story from 1995 which means while the rest of us tinker around with the new Instagram Hyperlapse timelapse app on our phones, Richard Linklater has already stepped things up a million levels and mastered the big screen narrative rendition of it. The guy is a legend.

Also opening this week, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a Romeo and Juliet-meets-Bring It On-in-the-kitchen film about two chefs in competing restaurants who learn to put aside their cultural differences and mix "street" (Indian food) with "classical" (French haut cuisine) to promote acceptance and world harmony. Or something.

I haven't seen it but Dame Helen Mirren stars, it's directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat), and it's based on a bestselling book. This means it is the kind of flick you can take your mom to and you probably should if she saw Boyhood — there's a pretty good chance she thinks you grew up way too fast. Time to set her straight.

(That said, if you live here in Whistler, there's a good chance you never really grew up at all.)


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