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5 Movies like Boyhood: Family Sagas

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Paola_Bassanese_itcher_contributorLet’s face it: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is so ground-breaking that it is almost impossible to find other movies like Boyhood that can be a good match! Thankfully there are some indie movies like The Spectacular Now that have a similar feel to Boyhood.~ Paola Bassanese

Why ‘Boyhood’ is so Unique

Sure, you may find lists of similar movies, however I could not find exact matches. You want good recommendations and my job is to come up with them.It’s impossible not to be totally in awe of Linklater‘s multi-award-winning cinematic achievement, Boyhood.

Following a group of actors over the course of 12 years is a major risk, but an exciting one.

Luckily for Linklater, all the cast and crew soldiered on until the end of filming.

Blurring the boundaries of documentary, TV series and cinema, Boyhood is a masterpiece.

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Films Similar to ‘Boyhood’

Let’s look at films similar to Boyhood, in order of similarity.

‘The First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ (Le Premier Jour du Reste de ta Vie, Rémi Bezançon, 2008)

Make up, wigs and child actors helped Bezançon to portray the passing of time in a more traditional manner than Linklater.

This is pretty much the French version of Boyhood (see more here), matching it for concept and family dynamics, however it wasn’t filmed over the course of twelve years.

Linklater‘s genius is in his long term vision and perseverance; however, Bezançon manages to tell the story of a family convincingly thanks to some great performances, particularly from Zabou Breitman as the head of the family going through a mid-life crisis. Her character, Marie-Jeanne Duval, is rather similar to “Mom”, the character Patricia Arquette plays in Boyhood. Both women dedicate their whole lives to their family and discover their passion for further education later on in life.

SIMILARITY MATCH: 80%
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life emphasises the comedy element compared to Boyhood, looking at mid-life crisis and children flying the nest.

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‘Before Midnight’ (Richard Linklater, 2013)

Sure, you will say that it’s easy to simply look at Linklater‘s back catalogue to find a match for Boyhood.

However, the reasoning behind choosing Before Midnight is that Linklater shot it at the same time as Boyhood and you can see how Linklater was experimenting with documenting family relationships.

Before Midnight is the second sequel to Before Sunrise (1995), and the two protagonists go through the motions in their relationships.

Like Boyhood, Before Midnight is shot like a documentary. It follows people around eavesdropping on their conversations. Is the spark gone? Two children later and twenty years on since Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) had their chance encounter on a train… Roxanne does a great job talking about this movie.

SIMILARITY MATCH: 70%
Only because both Boyhood and Before Midnight are by the same director and star Ethan Hawke it does not mean that these two movies are identical. If Before Midnight looks at how romantic love evolves into a life partnership, Boyhood is your ultimate coming of age movie, taking in all the different dimensions of love.

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‘The Spectacular Now’ (James Ponsoldt, 2013)

The emphasis is on living a life to the full and enjoying the present moment, but not wasting it trying to compare your life to that of your parents.

Jonny did a great job talking about the key message of The Spectacular Now, so I will summarise this movie’s similarities with Boyhood.

Both Ponsoldt and Linklater observe the passing of time, the nostalgia of youth, the responsibilities of adulthood.

Make sure to also have a look at these other great films similar to ‘The Spectacular Now’.

SIMILARITY MATCH: 60%
Like Boyhood, there’s some interesting father/son interactions and stylistically The Spectacular Now has a similar feel, especially in the car scenes where the protagonists discuss their lives.

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‘Stuck in Love’ (Josh Boone, 2012)

This is another story about divorced parents and children growing up carving a life for themselves.

Stuck in Love (find similar movies here) is a movie about a family of writers (more on movies about writers here).

Similarly to The Spectacular Now, the film looks at living in the present moment. Growing up isn’t easy – we have looked at movies about coming of age before and you will recognise the Louis character is Logan Lerman from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

SIMILARITY MATCH: 50%
Unlike Boyhood, Stuck in Love‘s time span is much shorter but goes into every detail of the relationships between all members of the family.

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‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2006)

Shot like a documentary, with a similar feel to Boyhood, Little Miss Sunshine is a road movie with a heart.

This film (see Scout’s brilliant analysis here) is a tragi-comedy with plenty of totally unrealistic twists and turns, and yet it is accurate in its depiction of your typical dysfunctional family.

You get your typical teenager, the grumpy Grandpa, the stressed out Dad, the wannabe child beauty queen and you soon forget about the stellar cast as you will be too busy laughing at the side-splitting jokes.

Sure, this film has less gravitas than Boyhood, but I am sure you will still enjoy both the silliness and the more serious parts in the story.

SIMILARITY MATCH: 50%
Less serious than Boyhood, this quirky comedy about a dysfunctional family is a great portrayal of relationships.

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What Do You Say?

What do you think of these choices?Did I miss a really good film similar to Boyhood?If you have watched a great film recently please add a comment.
I am Paola Bassanese, and I love twitter – I think in slogans! I am a contributing author at itcher mag covering mainly quirky movies that I like and that I hope you′ll like too. [n-e-x-t] I have written a few books including The Foraging Home Cook, and also write about health and lifestyle for the Huffington Post. I consider myself to be a Londoner even though I was born in Italy. I love 80s music and foreign language films, but I also enjoy going to the opera and ballet.
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