The only reason I hesitate to give Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" five stars is that you will be expecting a masterpiece. And a "masterpiece" these days is all too often a film that is trying very hard for that status, weighted with its own self-importance. (Dare I cite "There Will be Blood" or "The Tree of Life" as examples?)

The genius of Linklater is that he doesn't try to leap the high bar, and perhaps this is not surprising for the Austin, Texas-based director whose first two films were "Slacker" (1991) and "Dazed and Confused" (1993). His genius lies in his simplicity, his directness, his honesty and his looseness.

"Boyhood," filmed a few days each year over the course of 12 years, tracks the path of one boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, growing up in suburban Texas, starting from 2001. It's a simple enough premise, and the incidents and events in his life are typical, almost mundane, but the cumulative effect is profound — never has the passage of time on screen seemed so real or so poignant.