I watched the movie Boyhood last night. A coming of age movie with an ingenious twist~ the film was shot over a twelve year period to show the actual growth of the boy Mason Jr. and his sister Samantha.
I have mixed feelings about the subject matter. Maybe it hit a little too close to home when we saw how the kids tried to understand their parents divorce. Throughout the film, the parents Olivia and Mason Sr. do their very best to be good parents to their children despite their inability to live with one another. I thought that was an important theme to explore. We watch Mason Sr really talk to his kids, and explains to them that he did not want to be the kind of Dad that shows up every weekend to pick them up, take them cool places, and buy them stuff.
Olivia was struggling as a single mom in the beginning before Mason Sr. returned to Texas after a year and a half. She was doing it all on her own, and made a decision to return to Houston to be near her mother and finish college. She is clearly trying to balance her needs with the needs of her children. I liked that the film explored the struggle so many single mom’s face.
There was Olivia’s remarriage to her college professor with a son and daughter of his own. This blended family looks kind of Brady Bunch like at first. They call Bill, ‘Dad.’ The family plays charades, do chores together, but over time Bill’s drinking begins to bring out an ugly side and he starts to pick on Olivia’s children, and abuse her as well.
The film’s focus is on Mason Jr~ how he learns about himself as he, and the world around him, continue to change.
I wondered, however, why this story couldn’t be told from the daughter’s perspective. Samantha was an intriguing character. Is that because I am female? Perhaps.
Samantha clearly changed from a talkative, super confident girl, to a quieter pre-teen, and by high school she becomes something of an enigma. We see her on the fringes of Mason Jr’s world~ sharing a bedroom and annoying him with an early morning singing performance, fighting in the backseat with her brother, speaking her mind to her mother, yet holding back with her father as she matures.
I came away wanting to know how she felt about her parents split. Did the fact that her mother put herself first at some point in order to finish college give her a positive example to follow? Did her mother’s three failed marriages have an affect on her own feelings about herself as a woman? Did watching these men abuse her mother emotionally and physically shape her ideas on how men and women should treat one another? Was her Dad’s positive influence enough?
We all know that boys need good male role models, hopefully their fathers, in their lives, but what about the effect on girls? Studies prove that girls need their fathers just as much, perhaps even more, to foster healthy self images, and reduce teen pregnancy.
Boyhood was a very good movie, but I wish someone had thought to film Girlhood at the same time.
I would have enjoyed the sequel even more.