When I think of how I failed, I think of how I haven’t done enough to keep them going.
Here’s me being haplessly emotional. In part that’s because I’ve just watched Boyhood. An amazing film about us abandoning one another, failing one another. About violence in places where you wouldn’t expect it. About peace being brought about and cherished in places that are often said to preclude it. About families that grow simply by breaking up and multiplying into ever smaller units which bind together with their former selves in the most complicated ways. About the lives we all lead when no-one is watching.
The film made me wonder how we have even managed to make it just this far.
It’s a film set in Texas, but it’s not a film about America, and that’s how it is so effective. It may as well be set in Teheran or New Delhi or Berlin. It’s about growing up and fucking it up and living it up nonetheless. “Trotzdem,” as the Germans so onomatopoeically call it.
It’s about kids like you — dreaming, suffering at the hands of those whom you are supposed to trust, and still never quite getting on with the people who are in the same place. Kids like you who, after three hours of breathless film, still say “honest” like it’s a three-syllable word — slowly and with an undertone of inviolable awe.
It’s a film that makes you realize how much story there is in the people around you. It’s the kind of film that makes you want to e-mail your friends, telling them you love them. And it’s the kind of film that then stops you from doing so. Because it’s not grand, because it’s not ground-breaking, because it tells you ultimately that life is normal, and it will never change, until it really does.
Two comparisons came to my mind while I was watching it. They are both unfair, but here we go. One is that there’s some Franzen in the long drawn-out stories of the every-day. And the other is with The Light of the World — a painting that kept a whole generation gasping for breath and eventually flocking to a minor Oxford college. You see it now and there is no way anyone could understand what was so special about it. And yet it worked its magic on people. I think Boyhood may be similar: it touches us; it speaks to us; and later generations will probably wonder what the hell this was all about.
But today, we are touched by it.
Here’s to you, my friend. I hope you are well.