Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
After twelve years of filming so that the child actors could grow up on screen, this movie had better be good. It's an experiment that works well, in part because the director matures along with his cast: Richard Linklater pushed harder for a plot in the early years/scenes and his dramatic twists feel artificial, whereas in the later years/scenes, the film is more relaxed and natural and feels like it just happens, like regular life. The movie feels like a documentary following a real Texas family through its ups and downs, especially a first-grader who gradually ages until he's a college freshman. The best parts are Linklater's usual walking-and-talking scenes, which castmate Ethan Hawke has perfected in the Before films. This is a grand movie and well worth seeing for anyone curious about how the experiment turned out. Although its Oscar chances are handicapped by a summer release, I'm hopeful that it gets the wide recognition that it deserves.
Erik Bates: “It was ok.”
A bold concept, for sure, but I feel it was propped up with a lackluster plot.
The most original thing about this risky concept of a film is the fact that it was filmed over the course of 12 years with the same cast. I just wish Linklater would have taken the story in a direction that was as bold as the concept. A wasted opportunity, in my opinion.