Recently I (that other "James" in the priory) decided on a whim to join a brother to go see the movie "Boyhood." Although it had come out this past summer, I had not heard about it and didn't know what to expect. All I can say is that I was stunned and surprised by this film, and if you have not heard of or seen it, I definitely recommend it.
The most interesting hook about "Boyhood" is that writer and producer Richard Linklater filmed it over a 12 year period. The result is a fictional story that is made powerfully believable because we see the cast themselves "growing up." More than just a cinema gimmick, the way the story is woven together so seamlessly makes "Boyhood" more than your average coming-of-age story.
When a brother asked me what I thought about the movie, I responded, "What was most striking about the movie was that there was nothing exciting about it. Just when you expected or dreaded some dramatic twist, the scene changed...life went on. Ordinary life was just happening before my eyes." Although the age of the main character, Mason, was just shy of a decade behind me, I'm convinced that anyone who has ever grown up (or resisted doing so!) can't help but find resonance in his or her own life.
As a wise man I once met on a airplane said, "Life's not a straight line." "Boyhood" captures the ups and downs of growing up, navigating the external and internal changes we all face. The movie does not shy away from the raw and ugly sides of life (for that reason, I might advise parents to preview this one before sharing with children); nor does it over-dramatize them (anyone remember the TV series "7th Heaven"?). As the story flows on, you're inundated with a sense of both the profundity of unconditional love and the pain of human fallibility. At the end, I couldn't help but sigh, smile, and say, "Life is a journey--thank God."
My rating: 9 out of 10
On a more explicitly spiritual note, the thought popped in my head that the age range of Mason covered in the film roughly covers the early range of what we call "Jesus' Hidden Life." For all you Ignatian inclined pray-ers out there, how about meditating upon what "Boyhood" would be like if Jesus were the main character?