Filmmaker Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) spent 12 years--off and on--shooting this coming-of-age tale. Instead of being gimmicky, the film is comfortingly real and quietly observational. We simply watch as Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grows from age 5 to age 18 and experiences all that life throws at him. His parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) are divorced, and he drifts from video games to ogling lingerie catalogues to dealing with awful stepparents to navigating high school. The free-flowing narrative never tries to impose a "story" on the proceedings--and yet it's never dull. Instead, it's a lesson in regression for audiences as they recall all the funny, sad, rough, joyous, confusing moments that make up pre-adulthood. 165 minutes R.