We’re all just winging it, you know? The good news is you’re feeling stuff. And you’ve got to hold on to that.” — Mason Evans Sr.

What happens when you cast a six-year-old as the main character of your passion project, and then film him over twelve years as he grows into the story you envisioned for him? You get a brilliant and extremely relatable coming-of-age experience!

Meet and follow Mason, a boy who grows up right before your eyes, and his somewhat dysfunctional but very realistic family in their day-to-day struggles. He’s played by Ellar Coltrane, who brings his experiences of growing up straight into his portrayal of Mason. His mother is played by Patricia Arquette, who has won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the role, and his father by Ethan Hawke. He grows up with a sister played by Lorelei Linklater, the daughter of the brilliant director Richard Linklater.

This movie is truly one of a kind. The characters are so authentic, so lifelike, it almost looks like a documentary of an ordinary life. And that’s the best way to describe it. A life. It doesn’t have a central theme or a plot. It doesn’t need one. But make no mistake. This movie is not empty or uneventful. It’s about as eventful as life is, and as complex as one. It’s a wonderful image of the passage of time.

It’s as much of a story about parenthood as it is about growing up. The movie shows the struggle of Olivia, a single mother of two, as she tries to find herself and live her life from milestone to milestone. She goes from one bad relationship to the next, having to deal with abuse and disappointment. Everything she does is for the sake of her children, so much so that she loses sight of who she is. And this is something a lot of us can relate to, especially as we age.

Ethan Hawke’s character, referred to only as “Dad”, is also likable, even if his marriage with Olivia had failed. As much as the two aren’t good for each other, he does what he can to teach his children about life. In that way, he’s realistic. We observe Mason as he longs for his Dad’s presence in his life, and worries he won’t see him again when he moves, which is such a typical and relatable thought for a child. Olivia convinces him that sometimes the only healthy thing to do is to move on.

The concept is epic in scope, and a lot of work went into making it consistent. The director insisted on using 35mm film throughout the filming, making the movie flow smoothly and seamlessly. Everyone had so much faith in the project, from the producers, to the director, to the actors. Commitment brought this movie to life, and the experience of watching it is something to be treasured.

That said, some may find it boring.

Like we said, there is no real plot. There’s no artificial drama, everything is about realistic experiences. There’s ups and there’s downs, there are aspirations and memories and incidents and mistakes. It teaches us about life, but it does so slowly, subtly, instead of waving the message into your face.

Yeah, you could argue that it isn’t really a movie because of the lack of real structure, but it’s one of the best movie experiences you’ll get. It shows a difference between aging and growing up, and it makes you realize it and choose one. It’s beautiful and engaging, and it won’t leave you indifferent. We’ve felt like we were a part of this family’s life, too, and this kind of empathy is a sure sign of a good coming-of-age movie.

IMDb 3.9 /5
3.9 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 4.8 /5
4.8 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4.5 /5
4.5 out of 5

Combined average

4.4out of 5

4.4 out of 5
Category Drama

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