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Thursday, May 29, 2014

BOYHOOD, GIRLHOOD and the Overwhelming Fatigue and Beauty of Coming-of-Age Stories

It's always a little weird when there's a movie everyone is geeking out over, and you can't seem to muster even close to the same amount of enthusiasm for it. That film of the moment for me is BOYHOOD. Don't get me wrong; I do plan to see the film as I have always appreciated what filmmaker Richard Linklater (Before Midnight) has been able to accomplish by creating something beautifully organic out of something so very simple and familiar. This latest film, which is slated for a July 11th release, looks to be no exception. It is also fascinating that the film was made over a 12-year period and is a genuine coming-of-age story in that it literally follows a boy (Ellar Coltrane) as he journeys through life in real time. But still, it doesn't particularly excite me, despite the always awesome Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke who play "the parents."

Here's a little more information on it:

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 not to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.
Watch the trailer:

Perhaps it is still my growing fatigue of similar coming-of-age stories, excluding last year's mysteriously slept on The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete and 2011's Pariah, that continues to weigh on me. Or maybe it's that the stories just don't seem to say anything new. So I guess now it just comes down to telling the same story in a new way (which I suppose is the way of the land in Hollywood these days). But then I heard about Céline Sciamma's GIRLHOOD, which recently showed at the Cannes Film Festival and was met with fairly positive reviews. After reading only little about it, it's already become my latest film obsession, and one which may help cut through the repetition of other coming-of-age films. Not only does it feature a virtually unknown all-female cast, but it's also about growing up as a young girl of color--an image we just don't see enough of. As I've stated before on this blog, we are still dealing with the issue that white male stories are considered universal and all other stories are narrowly targeted and unrelatable. But, as I've read in a few reviews already, GIRLHOOD seems to debunk that theory as many boast that it carries themes that can resonate with girls and boys of any race. Well, how about that.

Here's the synopsis of GIRLHOOD, in case you're unfamiliar with it:

Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.

I just hope that as we continue to support the efforts of such filmmakers as Richard Linklater and other male artists, we don't omit the vision of talent like Sciamma and Dee Rees. It is our dismissal of these female counterparts that stunts their progression, and shuts out a fuller, more beautifully diverse view of what it means to come of age.


Ashlee Blackwell said...

GIRLHOOD is the one that takes place in France, right?

I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie!

Candice Frederick said...


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