Of the big three Texas filmmakers to emerge in the independent film boom of the 90’s, Robert Rodriguez might make the most commercially-viable action movies and Wes Anderson might have the most unmistakeable visual style, but it’s Richard Linklater who routinely accomplishes the most incredible feats: His Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight series, shot over 18 years—with, presumably, a fourth installment due in 2022—is a unique two-person show that captures the growth of young love into old, and fleeting passion into something deeper and more terrifying; his A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life pioneered entirely new animation techniques, and placed them directly in the service of telling stories that might not have worked if made through conventional means; his Fast Food Nation made a tolerable screen presence out of Avril Lavigne.
But Linklater’s most ambitious project is his latest: Boyhood, a nearly three-hour epic coming-of-age story that follows a boy named Mason from the age of six until the age of 18—with the same actor, Ellar Coltrane, in the lead role the entire time. The trailer offers a quick explanation of the way the film was made, with Linklater shooting with Coltrane and co-stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette over the course of twelve years. But it’s also clear from the trailer that this is no gimmick or lark. The evolution of Coltrane from little boy to grown man is dazzling to watch in a 90-second trailer, and a surprising reminder of the power of practical effects in an age of stunt-casting and CGI stand-ins. Boyhood appears to be another accomplishment that Linklater—and only Linklater—has to his name, and the trailer whets our appetites for how remarkable that appears to be.