Boyhood

Older Daughter and I saw “Boyhood” last night at the Belcourt. At last, a film for grownups. It’s a remarkable meditation on the passage of time, the experience of growing up, searching for the point of things, celebrating milestones, settling sometimes for less than life might have been expected to offer, and through it all learning. It was filmed over a dozen years of the actors’ actual lives, thus achieving a startling, mesmerizing realism. 2’45” shot by in a flash. Despite a series of depressing, distressing male figures in the protagonist Mason’s life, our ultimate takeaway as he commences college is affirming and uplifting.

So many of the men in “Boyhood” seem like losers, or bullies, or both, minds and mouths locked tight with disapproval and denial, and the challenge for Mason—and, you feel, for any kid—is not just to survive the squalls of youth but somehow to grow from boy to man without suffering a death of the spirit. Anthony Lane

Do we live and learn, or is the living hard enough on its own? Pals, teachers, sour stepdads, and early girlfriends come and go, caught up, like Mason, in time’s current. What a relief to find him emerging intact at the end, with happiness still in reach. New Yorker 

My experience of time at Saturday’s commencement at my school was a bit more sluggish, and my colleague’s address to the graduates about it being time to forget about the “very large number” of their graduating peers and get on with focusing on themselves, “you, the one,” struck me as sounding a note of individualist exclusion that really needs and deserves no reinenforcement from the academy. But, I emerged from it too with my hopefulness intact and my relief palpable.

And happiness was still in reach. Another colleague, on our way out of the Murphy Center – not the one who commented on the halloweenish quality of our caps and gowns – exclaimed, “they were so happy!”

And to the colleague on my left conspicuously working a crossword and fiddling with his phone all through the ceremonial roll-call and conferral of degrees: consider yourself peer-reviewed as a reprobate and an embarrassment to our profession. You might as well have stayed home and thrown your own party. You’re evidently not grown up enough to wear those duds and sit in that seat to celebrate our students’ transition from girl- and boyhood.

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