Mason (Coltrane) is a 7 year old boy who lives with his divorced mother Olivia (Arquette) and sister Samantha (Linklater) in East Texas. Occasionally his dad (Hawke) shows up to take the children for the day, showering them with presents. As Mason grows up, the family moves frequently, either for Olivia’s work or to accommodate a new boyfriend. Mason’s childhood is filled with typical days, and at 18 he graduates from high school and prepares to start college.
Director Linklater’s brilliant ode to growing up was twelve years in the making. The director assembled his expert cast for a few days once a year, shooting scenes which, when edited together, approximate real life in a way you’ve never seen before. The music and hairstyles mark the passing years, as Coltrane grows from a wide-eyed boy into a reflective young man. The result is a work of cinematic genius.