Richard Linklater’s experimental ‘Boyhood’ added to Sundance line-up at last minute

Last year, when it was announced that “Before Midnight” was going to play the Sundance Film Festival, it was a bit of a shock. Richard Linklater managed to keep the entire production under the radar, and it was a lovely surprise to realize that it was already finished and we’d be seeing it shortly.

This year, Linklater managed to surprise again with this morning’s announcement that “Boyhood” has been added to the Sundance schedule in the TBA slots that many of us had noted on the schedule. It is unusual for Sundance to leave a prime slot in the Eccles theater unclaimed, so we figured there was something interesting that they were working to secure. I would have never guessed it would be “Boyhood,” though, and it seems crazy to me that after years and years of waiting, I’m actually going to get to see the film this coming week.

For those who are unaware of “Boyhood,” it is a project Linklater’s been working on for 12 years now. Each year, he has filmed a few scenes for a film, and in the process, he has captured the maturation of young actor Ellar Coltrane in a way we’ve never really seen onscreen in a narrative feature before. Lorelei Linklater plays the boy’s sister, with Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as their divorced parents, and the chance to see that entire cast age over a decade during the film is an undeniable draw.

If it’s just a gimmick, of course, that’s not really a film, but Linklater has long since proven himself to be a guy who thinks deeper than just a single idea for his films. One of the things that I love about the “Before” series is the way nine years elapses between films so that each time we see these characters, they really are different people. Sure, you can fake that with make-up, but the way Linklater does that informs the making of the films and it impacts these projects at the DNA level. They are about time as much as they are about the events we’re watching and the characters that are featured.

It’s a tremendously exciting addition to what was already a tremendously exciting line-up. We’ll be there to bring you all the buzz on all the films, including “Boyhood,” which premieres Sunday night at 9:45.