I’ve sat with the aftermath of this movie for a few days now; as will all films I want it to settle and not rush to conclusions. I’ve done that; now’s the time to allow an opinion to take some sort of shape. It may change – in greater or smaller ways – over time and re-viewings, of course. However I need to allow something to emerge out of the haze. What emerges is simply this: it’s a masterpiece. It’s not much less than three hours long, but I could have watched another three hours. It’s funny, sad, gripping, moving, engaging, disturbing and comforting. The acting is flawless, the direction almost miraculous, the soundtrack addictive, the dialogue real and true at the deepest levels.
You may have heard about how this film has come to be: the story of a family’s life, told from the viewpoint of a son, shot over the course of 12 years (think of the boggling level of vision this requires on the director’s part), each year, as the actors grow up. If it sounds like a gimmick, nothing could be further from the truth. Through fracturing marriages, birthdays, rites of passage, fads and life-shaping decisions, the family’s life is tracked with a compassionate eye for the little details that tell us more than a library’s worth research project.
Pushed to say what it’s about, you’d be hard-pressed to say: other than boyhood, girlhood, motherhood and fatherhood. We all have something to see here. It’s probably not perfect; some of the bit-part players seem to find hard to find the right tone of performance; occasionally you’d like to linger longer on a life-moment. Really, though, those are faults for the sake of it. Basically it’s perfect, and there’s not a soul that wouldn’t have an enriched life for having seen it.
Over the course of twelve quiet years, one of the era’s definitive artistic achievements has emerged.
I rated this movie 5/5 on rottentomatoes.com and 10/10 on imdb.com