Richard Linklater made this groundbreaking character study over a period of twelve years with the same family quartet of contemporary middle-class Texans: Mason the title character, who grows onscreen from age 5 to 18 (Ellar Coltrane); Mason’s older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the filmmaker’s daughter); and their divorced parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke). The necessarily episodic saga focuses on the childhood of Mason, but all four main actors turn in remarkable, touching performances, as life changes them – particular kudos to Arquette and Hawke. By the end of the two-hour-plus running time, we’ve witnessed a sweeping panorama of life experience that other movies have tried to capture – notably the work of Terence Malick and Linklater’s own Before series – but few have succeeded, before this. One of the most emotionally powerful films of this or any other year. Also with Zoe Graham, Marco Perella, and Libby Villari (164 min.).
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