Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood (2014)
  • Time: 163 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Richard Linklater
  • Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke


Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.


  • Wonderful, innovative movie. Of course, the first thing you know about the movie is that it was filmed using the same cast over 12 years. An incredibly original and daring feat from writer/director Richard Linklater. So many things could have gone wrong over those 12 years that would have made the movie not eventuate.

    But eventuate it did, and the end product is wonderful.

    In following a boy’s aging from 6 to 18 years we see him grow and mature before our eyes. Reminds us of our our childhood, its trials, tribulations, discoveries, highs and lows.

    We don’t just see his progress, but that of his family and friends too. Incredibly realistic.

    As a character-driven movie, the plot is mostly secondary, but it is hardly dull. You are so drawn in by the characters that you care about everything that happens to them, down to minor things. This said, Linklater doesn’t allow the movie to get bogged down or drift. Most of the plot might of a domestic nature, but it is certainly not boring.

    You wouldn’t know the movie is almost three hours long, it moves along so briskly.

    Only negatives would be that I didn’t find the boy’s personality overly likable as he grew up, and some of his pretentious musings just seemed like padding. Also, there were one or two scenes we could have done without (eg guns as birthday presents).

    One of the more innovative movies you’ll see, and wonderful to watch.

  • There are coming-of-age movies and then there is Boyhood, writer-director Richard Linklater’s experimental saga filmed in sequence over a 12-year period.

    Boyhood covers the milestones of Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) growth from little boy to college-bound teen. We see Mason and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) witness the tense separation between their parents Mason Sr. and Olivia (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette), the succession of stepfathers – with Olivia’s marriage to her professor a particularly ill choice, packing up and settling down only to pack up and start all over again, Mason’s burgeoning passion for photography, the first kiss, the first heartbreak, and the gradual formation into the man he will become.

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  • Even before you start watching the movie or come to any conclusion, you really need to applaud the effort that went into making this movie, shot over a period of 12 years with the same star cast. Having said that, the juice did not turn out worth the squeeze.

    The film documents the protagonist ‘Mason’s life journey (played by Ellar Coltrane) right from fairy tauiles to hairy tales (pun intended). Typically such movies generate a strong nostalgia in you and I have to concede that it started well with me as first scene opened with one of my school time favourite song ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay. But then it didn’t hit exactly the trajectory that I was salivating for.

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  • Boyhood is a 12-year film in the making, about Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his journey from the age of 8 until age 18. This has never been done before and it’s such a huge achievement, with any amount of problematic situations that could have come up during this time, they have managed to create something anyone would be proud of. If you’ve not seen any of Richard Linklater’s films, he is a man who is fascinated in time and his films usually revolved around a 24-hour period, most notably the trilogy Before Sunrise (1994), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2014), so this must have taken a lot of patients, to create something over twelve-years.

    There is a problem with Boyhood, the story is terrible, I’m sorry to say it and I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, but it lacked the one thing it needed, drama. I love the idea of watching these characters lives over a period of time and didn’t expect too much of a story, but I needed something to keep me engaged in the film, which there wasn’t any. We skip year to year getting snippets of these peoples lives and we’re expected to instantly know what’s happening and find it acceptable for a film to skip over important moments, like Mason getting his first girlfriend and later breaking up. Instead we are treated to a load of dialogue telling us what’s happened instead of actually showing us.
    (For the full review click here,)

  • I know this film is gaining wide acclaim this year and it is the front runner for best picture, but I don’t understand all the love. The characters were annoying and rarely did anything interesting. The film seemed to have no driving conflict at all and I felt like I was watching a whole lot of nothing. The movie was not only boring but it was way too long!

    I understand that it is amazing that the film was made over 12 years.
    Although Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette did a good job, I don’t see anything impressive about “Boyhood” other than the fact that they kind of made a string of short films work over the course of more than a decade.

    This is just my opinion and yes, it is a very unpopular one. I just don’t understand the love. I really wanted to like it, too. Do not waste your time because you will be bored out of your mind.

  • The life of a boy, especially between kindergarten and the first year of college, features many twists and turns; I know this from experience. Over time, the boy’s relationship with his family and the atmosphere that he is brought up in starts to have a larger influence on him. For Mason, his twists and turns began at the very beginning of his life. With parents who weren’t originally planning on having kids, both Mason and his sister Samantha are suffering from the unfortunately common lifestyle of having divorced parents. For the mother, she is doing the best that she can, and she’s even going to the local college to get a degree to support her family; however, she is failing as a parent. As for the father, in contrast to his ex-wife, he’s a fantastic caretaker for his son and daughter, but he doesn’t have his life quite in order. As the 12 years passes before the camera, the story of Mason’s transformation unfolds, and we watch as each new event and experience shapes him.

    After seeing American Sniper, I came across this film on the selection of the Redbox at my local grocery store. Remembering the constant critical praise that I’ve seen and heard about this film, I decided to check it out. The concept of filming that director Richard Linklater used for this film had intrigued me when I had originally heard about it. For those of you who may not know, this film was revolutionary in that instead of using different actors or makeup/prosthetics, the movie was filmed for a few weeks at a time each year over a 12-year period, which makes the actors naturally age as the film rolls on. As a groundbreaking film, I found it to be great; however, when the idea behind the filming is put aside, this movie isn’t that extraordinary.
    My most prominent criticism of this film is the pacing. For a film that is nominated for Best Film Editing in this year’s Oscars, I presumed that the film would have a good pace to it, and it would keep the audience interested. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. I found myself checking the time on my phone repeatedly, and the 2 hour and 45 minute run-time did not help this struggle. I understand that real life isn’t exactly eye-catching and exciting, but the editor could have cut out some lines, they could have added some engaging stories, just something.
    Another aspect of the film that I found unsatisfactory was that I found myself unable to find any of the main characters to be truly likeable. Mason, especially in his junior high/high school years, is a “stoner” and borders on the liberal end of the spectrum, his sister Samantha is an unbearably pretentious person, the mom is a “loose” person that makes terrible decisions in relationships, and the father is a funny, yet lazy, man who is rarely present.
    Now that I have stated my negative comments about the film, I must say that there are a few aspects that I found to be admirable. The plot does show some deep development of its characters as time passes, and that helps the audience understand their motivations better. At the beginning of the film, I found it difficult to identify with Mason, but I found myself more interested when he hit his teen years. Through the teenage years of Mason’s story, I could relate it, in some ways, to either my life or the lives of the people that I see at school. I have never been into the whole “hipster” lifestyle, but I could relate to his difficulty in coping with growing up and being so close being a college student. My last positive note is the performance by Ethan Hawke as the father Mason Sr. I thought that he did a great job of playing the character, which is a cool man who just wants to be a great dad, but his lifestyle just doesn’t allow him to.

    Score: 6.5/10
    Comments: I know what you might be thinking: he gave a Best Picture nominee a 6.5?! Yes, reader, I did. I found the pacing and the unlikeable characters to be a hindrance to the enjoyment of this coming-of-age story. I tip my cap to the director for his innovative technique in using the same actors, but I could not quite get myself to enjoy this film as much as I hoped (and I really did hope) I would.

  • Mark Avery

    As a film fan, one of the biggest issues you have to deal with is expectancy. With ‘Boyhood’ I made the choice to skip it at the cinema and wait for general release. In the convening months however, Its been bombarded with all kinds of praise, the kind of adulation usually reserved for true Hollywood classics. So when the moment arrived to finally see it, I had to keep my expectancy levels very firmly under control. I needn’t of bothered though, for Linklater has delivered us a movie of such beauty and significance. Everyone was right to praise it so highly.

    A lot’s been made of this movies set-up, filming over a twelve year period, but I feel a little too much at times. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredibly brave and ambitious undertaking. What if ‘newbie’ Ellar Coltrane turned out to be Jason Statham in the talent stakes or even worse, any cast member had died. You also have the issue of keeping the narrative tight, maintaining its artistic style throughout, while also making sure characters develop naturally. But all this focus is at the expense of seeing just how much of a triumph this movie is in a purely filmic sense. I’m constantly hearing some people say “wow, filmed over twelve years, so what. Where’s the story?”, um……..’life’, that is the story.

    I got it, in fact I was sold almost immediately. A pace and ambience revealed itself within the first five or six scenes that struck a chord with me instantly. It developed an ever growing realism and connection with almost every passing moment.

    Witnessing Mason’s journey through adolescence evoked so many memories of my own childhood and subsequent growing up. Decisions I’d made or actions I’d taken, and how they’d led me to where I am today on my own journey through life. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna start chanting. Simply to say that when you have a movie that delivers a life story in such a real way, it’s only going to be enhanced by seeing these people really growing up on screen. Making that emotional bond between you and the cast even stronger.

    Linklater isn’t new to this dynamic when you consider the time passing throughout the ‘Before’ series. Only this time we get to see it in one continuous movie. With ‘Boyhood’ we get to see how his vision and belief were spectacularly right, let’s remember, it could have come off as one giant gimmick. With a running time just shy of three hours, we could also be in dodgy territory for what is essentially a slow paced, coming of age family drama. But the writing is too strong. The truth is that I could have easily sat through another three hours. I found it continually fascinating, even applauding Mason’s graduation as if he was one of my own.

    I adored watching the relationship with his father develop, seeing Hawke doing as much maturing throughout the movie as his son. Seeing Mason begin to question his own existence and purpose in life. Almost every scene being delivered with such inherent beauty and warmth, with a soundtrack that serves as a constant bookmark to what year we’re in.

    When it comes to this years Oscars, I really believe that the Film/Director nods will go to either this or ‘Birdman’. I can’t separate them for performance, script and delivery. It just depends on whether you consider sheer technical wizardry to be more deserving than sheer heartfelt magic. Either way I’ll be very surprised if Linklater ever surpasses this.

    I absolutely adored this. I heard a friend describe it as the “truest artistic expression of life ever delivered on screen”. He may be absolutely correct.


  • Richard Linklater, in my opinion is one of the greatest indie directors out there today. His filmography contains some of the greatest and most ingenious work any director has ever done. In 1991, He made a solid debut with small budget comedy ‘Slacker’, gave us quite possibly the greatest hang-out movie ever, (Dazed and Confused). he’s made us see animation in a new light (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly), brought the best out of Jack Black (School of Rock, Bernie), sure he’s disappointed us now and then (Bad News Bears, Fast Food Nation), but ever so often he’s also had the ability to simply enchant us (Before; Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight). From someone who’s made a career out innovative and inventive film-making it’s no surprise he’s behind something like ‘Boyhood’.

    With Boyhood however Linklater tries to do something different, something that hasn’t been done before not just by him but anyone. Filmed over 12 years, Boyhood is a movie that tracks the development of a boy from the age of 5 to the age of 18, and pretty much tells a story for each year of his life. It stars Ellar Coltrane as Mason, Patricia Arquette, and Ethan Hawke as his parents and Lorelei Linklater as his sister, Samantha. However, Boyhood is far more than just a gimmick film, it’s a wonderful coming of age story on the grandest scale. The transition of the characters is truly the highlight of the movie, watching our characters go through the ups and downs of life makes for a truly remarkable cinematic experience. The movie definitely has a time capsule feel to it, each period brings us a brief moment of nostalgia due to the amount of pop-culture items present in each period, ranging from the music to the Harry Potter books to the Xbox. Performance-wise Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette lead the show with great performances, particularly Hawke who’s naturalistic acting is truly fantastic to watch. Taking on such an ambitious project is never easy and in that sense i think Linklater succeeds by bringing that ambition to the screen.

    However, Boyhood in my opinion suffers from many drawbacks. One of them is perhaps presenting us with a highly unlikable as well as a highly uninteresting protagonist in Mason. Throughout the course of the movie Mason goes from a nice, sweet, highly likable young kid to a slacking, lazy, aimless teenager. We see Mason being offered guidance and advice from his elders yet the paths he takes leaves one confused and frustrated. And Coltrane’s performance also deteriorates through the course of the movie and at the end we’re left with a character that you really couldn’t care less about. I found Lorelei Linklater’s acting also quite disappointing given the screen-time she was given. The latter part of the movie also featured some of the most disconnecting moments of the entire film and the run-time could have been shorter. It felt like the show was over, the story was told, yet Mason was still on screen. This gave me a feeling i last got after watching Robert Zemeckis’s ‘Cast Away’.

    In the end, Boyhood is a good movie, a magnificent achievement and a bold move for Richard Linklater, featuring great performances from Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. However, it is also a highly disconnecting movie at times and in my opinion Linklater fails to truly succeed as a storyteller. The portrait that he paints of our protagonist, Mason, also comes across as a highly muddled and meandering effort.

    Final Score: 7.3/10

    -Khalid Rafi

  • “You don’t like me much, do you Mason?
    That’s okay, neither do I.”

    As a concept movie, “Boyhood” definitely can be called a successful experiment. It took Richard Linklater no less than 12 years to realize this film. It’s a registration of the daily life of an average American family with characters interpreted by the same actors or actresses in different life cycles. Is this an unique concept ? Unfortunately not. In 2001, the Harry Potter saga started with the main characters growing up while the story progressed. So that gimmick is already used.

    I’m also the proud owner of a whole collection of home videos I made for years with my Sony Handycam. Would the result be similar to “Boyhood” if I’d edit these nostalgic film clips into a motion picture ? No of course not, because my creation wouldn’t be right. The synchronization between the different periods would be wrong. The themes wouldn’t be in harmony. The continuity wouldn’t be guaranteed, especially regarding the overall atmosphere. In terms of content, there might be similarities, but ultimately it simply will become a banal family documentary, dominated by triviality and platitude. What I’m trying to say is that probably there will be some who’ll portray “Boyhood” as an extra-long home video, while for me it’s not so evident to come to this result. Ingenious and phenomenal at the same time.

    Don’t expect truly earth shaking events or developments. You only witness the calmly on-going life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane). A life like most of us have experienced it. A life full of ups and downs, with its euphoric moments and sad moments. A life that forms you as a human being into the personality you’ll finally be when reaching adulthood. Also Mason goes through all these stages : first a carefree teenager, school troubles, domestic problems, puberty, an exceptional father who occasionally crosses (during major and minor moments) his life, teenage love, his heart being broken and than the final step to adulthood. 12 Years interwoven with no visible indication in what time span it’s happening at that time and this summarized in 165 minutes. Together with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), daughter of Richard Linklater and a teenager with an attitude, and his mother (Patricia Arquette), who won a gold medal in the Olympic discipline “choosing the wrong guys”, a touching coming-of-age story unfolds itself. Afterwards you realize how volatile time is and how our life goes on with an irreversible pace.

    Ellar Coltrane plays literally and figuratively the role of his life. The beginning was a little bit sluggish and lethargic. It seemed to leave him indifferent which made him act quite apathetic. But as he grows older, I appreciated his deep philosophical musings more and more. His argumentation while driving on the highway about humanity functioning in modern society as self-healing and reproducing robots, because the manufacturing of cyborgs would be too costly, I found funny but at the same time I realized that it was uncannily accurate and that there’s actually a little truth in what he claims. Again something I could identify myself with. Lorelei Linklater grows into a rebellious and wayward teenager. Arquette’s roundings expand as the years pass. The only one whose looks remain timeless, is that of Ethan Hawke. Although it feels as if he plays an ancillary character who pops up occasionally into the life of Mason, I found this the most beautiful role in “Boyhood” and for me the one who exerts the most influence on the development of the person Mason. A brilliant interpretation: serene, vulnerable and supportive. And maybe it’s my imagination, but I thought Mason resembled more and more Hawke as he grows older. What a coincidence.

    The final conclusion is that it’s a brilliant concept with delightful characters who grow and unfold themselves as time progresses. So what’s wrong with it than ? Absolutely nothing, except in the end it’s just a dull affair. You can’t say there are many startling things happening. Despite the chaotic periods Mason’s mother is going through , you can’t detect any real traumatic experiences. Every average family’s life looks like this. And yet this film is praised to the skies. And that’s because everyone sees something in it they can relate to and finally think something like “Hey, I also experienced it like that” or “Damn that happened to me also in that period”. And that’s the strength of “Boyhood”. A mirror is held up in front of you and you’ll come to one conclusion : Life is a concatenation of moments you need to enjoy fully, because there comes a time you’ll realize that those moments have passed. And that’s perfectly summarized by Mason’s final sentence: “It’s the constant moments, it’s just … it’s like always right now”.

  • “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”

    “It’s been months since I left Boyhood feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied with nearly a three-hour viewing, and while I’ve let the film digest, I still don’t get the over-hyped appeal.

    With a nearly perfect 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (only five critics out of 258 dared to negatively review) and a 100% ranking at Metacritic (ranks as the highest scored new release for at least this century at Metacritic), New York Times film critic A.O. Scott hails Boyhood as “one of the most extraordinary movies of the 21st century.” And I’m left here wondering…why?

    The film was recently awarded best picture at the Critics Choice Award and the Golden Globes, and it’s the frontrunner for best picture at the Oscars. Director Richard Linklater explains “I wanted the whole film to feel like a memory–how you might feel if you looked back on your life.” But, the memory isn’t compelling. A straight, white boy grows up in a middle-class family to become an arts student. Groundbreaking, no?

    Director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Trilogy) chronicles 12 year’s in the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) where we literally watch him mature on screen. Linklater’s 12-year filming project touches groundbreaking territory using the same cast transforming and molding the characters based on the development of the child actors. The film includes notable performances by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, but those performances couldn’t save a film that I thought coasted on neutral for the entirety of the movie. Sure, it’s a glimpse into one boy’s life, the chaos of divorced parenthood, the struggles and inadequacy of “finding yourself” … but the ups and downs of the movie are minimal while the plot flatlines for three hours.

    Did I mention anything outside of exalting the nearly perfectly reviewed film is not only frowned upon, but nearly taboo in the circle of critics? Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan chose to not pen his lukewarm feelings toward the heavily lauded Boyhood and shied away unleashing any negativity toward the highly-praised film. Turan, like myself, second-guessed his opinion wondering “had I missed something?” or “did I not get the big picture?” What exactly are we missing here?

    Turan later revealed his full opinion toward the movie, but moreso in a sense of how lonely in can be to feel like the only one raining on the Boyhood parade.

    The greatest accomplishment of Boyhood is Linklater’s 12-year span of filming, but the composition lacks to inspire or reflect as it merely displays a collection of dull and tedious memories. To put it plainly, Boyhood‘s script is as basic as they come. There are no memorable lines nor any overachievements in acting. Patricia Arquette’s alleged Oscar-worthy scene huffing and puffing and “hoping for more in life” was as bland as Ellar Coltrane’s expressionless reaction to her flustered, teary moment. Is this really the 12 Years a Slave of 2014? Or does this resonate the same way with me as Silver Linings Playbook addressed mental illness two years ago? Absolutely not. Maybe it’s a lack of personal connection that deters me from sipping the Boyhood milkshake, but it’s undeniable that this is a far cry from being hailed the Citizen Kane of my generation (yes, some critics have admit that it has eclipsed the great Citizen Kane).

    With Twitter constantly trending about how white washed the Oscar nominations, why isn’t anyone talking about Boyhood? I appreciate Linklater’s ambitious project, and I’ll be satisfied when he wins the Academy Award for best director, but I want to be in awe by a film that wins best picture. Avatar broke tremendous boundaries with it’s visual effects years ago, but it was The Hurt Locker that won that year tapping on our backs about war being the ultimate drug. That’s a feeling. Maybe next year.

  • Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second. Boyhood is the true essence of life captured over 12 years within 166-minutes. Director Richard Linklater filmed Boyhood over a 12 year period, from May 2002 to October 2013, showing us the growth of Ellar Coltrane’s Mason. Given the opportunity to see Coltrane grow and go through the many different stages of boyhood, Linklater gives his characters a sense of authenticity. Boyhood gives you an opportunity that no other film has done to this level before, re-live your childhood from an outside perspective as you see Mason grow and mature and find yourself thinking, “So, this is how I was when my body and mind was changing like crazy and my hormones were all over the place.”

    Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It’s impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.

    Linklater created something really special in Boyhood, he follows a family of four and using real-time he is able to show the audience how much time really does change an individual. Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) went from being simple-minded elementary school kids to radical thinking college students. As for their parents, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) go through different phases as well from different relationships to different vehicles. That in itself, is the beauty of the film, that fifth character of the film, time. For example, the Pontiac GTO that Mason’s dad owned was a staple in both their lives. Mason, at a young age, correlated that car with his father, who he only got to see on weekends, and hoped one day that he will be able to own that very same car. Mason’s dad was still living that young care-free lifestyle, a lifestyle that played a part in why he ended up divorce, and that car was a staple of that image. As time past, Mason Sr. matures into the man he should of been all along and sells the Pontiac GTO for a traditional-family vehicle, a mini-van. Without that fifth character, the audience probably will just side with Mason and the heartbreak he felt when he found out that he won’t be driving the GTO like he has always imagined. Instead, thanks to the fifth character, we side with both characters simultaneously; this is the beauty and the emotional range of Boyhood.

    Boyhood is a lengthy film as it is 14-minutes shy of being three hours long but every second of the film is important. Linklater does not rush to the next scene but lets his characters and audience resonate with what just happened. After a conflict, Linklater does not rush to the next scene but stays exactly where we are and lets his charters unravel to their next action. When you take a single moment in which Linklater does this, it might seem irrelevant but when you look at it as a whole, it is magically and what makes this film a ‘drama’.

    Because if Boyhood wasn’t a drama, a documentary is another genre that it could be considered as it includes pieces of real history over the 12 years it was filmed. CD players transform into iPods, iPods transform into iPhones and children interactions transform from in-person interactions to time spent on Facebook and social media. From wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to Obama’s election, you will mostly likely relate to these characters who are reflecting on these events as it happens in present day with feelings you might of had when those events were considered “present” to you.

    A drama, A time capsule of 12 years of an individual’s life or even a documentary, Boyhood can be considered to be many things but one thing that it is for sure is a masterpiece of American film making. 3D films have images pop out the screen right into our faces, Boyhood jumps out the screen right into our soul. Seize the day they say but it is the moment that seizes us, something Mason and his friend realize late in the film.

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