My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Boyhood

For once, the hype of a film turned out to be true. I went this afternoon to see “Boyhood,” the extraordinary Richard Linklater film which he started filming 12 year ago and continued once a year with the same cast, filming the next chapter as everyone aged. As you watch, you wonder why no one has done this before. What patience it must have taken, to put that much effort into a creative project and leave it simmering, year after year after year.

And now here it is, and it’s amazing – moment after moment reading true. Small lives played out on the big screen, reminding us of ourselves. Miraculous to watch the child who’s the centre of the film, Mason, go from six to nearly grown up. He reminded me so much of my own son. Mason’s parents are divorced and doing their best, in their crazy way, and the kids are too, in theirs. Mostly the film, it seems to me, is about the resilience of the human spirit, how there is love and kindness even in the most unlikely places, helping kids get through. A scene where the kids go with their dad to visit their new stepmother’s parents – and there is love and celebration, even in a place where they are almost strangers. It’s beautiful, and so well realized. Very moving, particularly for those of us who’ve been divorced and tried, as single parents, to raise whole and happy human beings.

Of course it reminded me of the 21 Up series, one of my favourite film series, watching real people grow up. But here it’s scripted drama, and yet we watch these people transform, year to year, in a way that feels completely truthful, particularly the children, who change shape and hair and voices. The music changes, the society around them. But nothing dramatic happens, no huge tragedy, no major violence. Just life.

I felt for Mason’s mother, who struggles to raise her children and make a home for them and herself, and then is left behind. Lucky, lucky us, I thought – we got to stay in our home after the divorce, their dad was a responsible man, not like the flaky if loving Ethan Hawke character, and I never subjected my kids to a string of losers, as their mother did. I’m sure every divorced parent watching was doing a similar comparison check list.

It’s perhaps a bit long, and my one criticism is that the girls who become Mason’s friends and eventually girlfriends are stunningly beautiful – Linklater could not allow them to be fairly ordinary, as the boy and his sister are, like us. Which is too bad, because to me it’s the only false note in a film that is otherwise shining with truth. Highly recommended. But pee first, because it’s long and the line-ups in the women’s bathroom are endless. The theatre was packed.

And then I cycled home at dusk – it was supposed to thunderstorm but didn’t – and Number One son was still here, still watching Boardwalk Empire. He had cooked us dinner. He’d rummaged in the fridge and found all the stuff I bought at the market this morning, grilled the pork chops, made a chutney from cherries, apple and other fruit, and grilled peppers and eggplant. I threw my arms around him, so glad to see my own solid boy who emerged, hearty and whole, from his own crazy boyhood. And then we sat down to this:

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4 Responses to “Boyhood”

  1. theresa says:

    I'm really looking forward to this one. Thanks for such a intriguing review!

  2. beth says:

    It's something new and really wonderful. At least, I think so. With a few flaws.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That little Sam has missed his calling. I think he should come to Stratford and go to the Chefs' School and become a famous chef because he'd look great on TV and give the techies with the boom mikes nightmares. Love, Lani

  4. beth says:

    I'm with you, Lan! I'll work on him.
    love you
    b.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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