Ellar Coltrane is 7 when the movie opens and 18 when it ends.

Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age film runs 165 minutes, but it’s worth it. Just bring a pillow and stay off liquids before showtime. Boyhood showcases a strong cast of characters in an unprecedented cinematic time-lapse where an everyday family grows up before our eyes.

Writer-director Richard Linklater (Before Midnight) achieved the impossible by shooting a few scenes per year using the same cast for 12 years. Ellar Coltrane as Mason, Jr., the “boy” in Boyhood, is seven years old when the movie opens and 18 when it ends. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are thoroughly believable as Mason’s divorced mom and dad, and Mason’s sister is played by Linklater’s daughter Lorelei.

Boyhood is about a family of good-hearted people living lives that are all too human, and who cross paths with people we like less. The dialogue is so genuine that the film has an unscripted, documentary feel. This fly-on-the-wall experience may not captivate everyone, but almost everyone will be enthralled by the naturalness and intimacy that makes us feel like houseguests. By the time this family’s story concludes, we’ve spent half a lifetime with them. And we care.  A