Director/writer Richard Linklater is rarely in a hurry. His “Before” trilogy spanned 18 years. In this more ambitious marvel, he records a 12-year period in the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from age six to 18, shooting for a few days each year. So during the film’s nearly three hours, time becomes visible as we literally watch the lad grow up.

Now, this would just scream “gimmick!” if there weren’t so much more going on. Mason’s sister Samantha (the director’s daughter Lorelei) goes through her own changes, as do actors Patricia Arquette (terrific) as Mason’s long-suffering single mom, and Ethan Hawke as his nice-guy but inconsistent dad. And finally, if you look for it, you can even see Linklater’s direction evolve into today’s more confident, relaxed style.

Of course it’s a coming-of-age story, but it skips over such things as graduations, first kiss, first bike, etc., because when you come down to it, life is those mundanely meaningful things that happen between posing for family photos. Bottom line, this is as close as one might come to capturing on film how people remember growing up. Great use of pop music. Japanese title: Roku-sai no Boku ga Otona ni Naru made. (165 min)