Entirely coincidentally, I spent this past weekend stuck firmly in childhood and adolescence. On Friday night I finished reading Eleanor & Park and on Saturday we went to see Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Each is a very well-regarded work on what it means to grow up - here's my take on them:
First up, Eleanor & Park. Truth be told, I was so excited to start reading this book after hearing rave reviews from many, many sources that I trust. A well-told teenage love story pulls at the heartstrings of everyone, so I couldn't wait to dive in. However, I have to say that I found most of the book underwhelming. The story was well-written and a very authentic depiction of what your first relationship is like when you're sixteen years old, but I wouldn't describe it as a masterpiece. And after everything I'd heard about it, I don't think I could have been satisfied with anything less.
All of that being said - the end was truly touching. But much of that has to do with my own personal bias (I think). Without giving away too much, the book ends with the two main characters being separated after one has to move. The description of how intensely sad each of them were in the move's aftermath hit too close to home for me - I cried myself to sleep after finishing the book just reliving what it was like when my now-husband (then-middle school boyfriend) moved away before eighth grade. Again, I think Rainbow Rowell did a great job conveying what those emotions feel like when you're that age and dealing with those changes...but I don't think I came away with a better understanding of life and love because of the book. And that deeper understanding is what I was hoping for.
Luckily, a better understanding of life and love is exactly what Boyhood delivered. I know having a favorite director is probably the most pretentious thing on the face of the planet, but I don't care - Richard Linklater is my favorite director, and I will see everything he makes for the rest of his life. Y'all - Boyhood was spectacular. Run, don't walk, to go see it.
For those of you who haven't heard about it yet, over the course of twelve years Richard Linklater got the same group of actors together for two weeks every year to film a story about a boy growing up. Ellar Coltrane, the star, starts out as a six-year-old, and the movie progresses until he leaves for college. We watch Ellar, his sister (Lorelai Linklater, Richard Linklater's daughter), and his parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) age in a time-lapse fashion - the characters get older, people come in and out of their lives, they make mistakes, they try their best, they're real people. The experience is something I can barely describe - you really have to see it for yourself.
This movie will be enjoyable for anyone who grew up during the 2000s, but it will be particularly enjoyable for everyone who, like me, grew up in Houston in the 2000s. Almost their entire childhood is filmed in Houston, which led to my husband and I whispering excitedly in the theater every time they showed a different Houston location. I would argue that the movie is even better than home movies for transporting you back in time - the music, the scenery, the props - for a few minutes, you are truly living in a year gone by, and each time it feels so good.
I could go on endlessly about my admiration of this movie, but I'm going to cut it off here. I hope you don't need more convincing that this movie is worth your time, money, and brain space - if nothing else, I can tell you that you won't see anything like it ever again (with the possible exception of the Before movies - another Linklater masterpiece).
Have a spectacular day, everyone.