I have a great deal of respect for Barbara Nicolosi and her efforts to train Christians in the craft of film making. And I share her frustration that so many “Christian” products tend to be bad art because people do not have the chops (and worse don’t think they need the chops) to do great art.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt of her review of Boyhood, which I now intend to see. It is posted at Deal Hudson’s new site The Christian Review.
Through a Gospel lens, what makes Boyhood so important is that it tracks how a human person is basically lost through the lack of a serious and intelligent formation in his youth. As Aristotle noted in his Nicomachean Ethics, a happy life comes down to habits of virtue instilled in youth. Boyhood lurches through the journey of a young person who is given little if any formation in virtue. Because of his parents’ fundamental superficiality, and its resulting selfishness and immaturity, they have no habits of virtue to hand on to him. The concepts of justice, prudence, moderation and fortitude are never even offered to the child, never mind faith, hope and charity. He is raised without any measure of meaning beyond his own inclinations – in a truly, thoroughly, tragically, unexamined life. And, at the end, as the now man trips on mushrooms and exchanges banalities with another equally lost Millennial, we know that, probably, the man will live a life as Plato said, “not worth living” in the imprisonment and misery of narcissism. The cake is baked.
For me, the horrible, wonderful fascination of Boyhood, is knowing that the journey it tracks is not uncommon. In fact, the childhood it depicts is probably much less traumatic than that lived by lots of kids today. Still, this movie is a profile of the bulk of the Millennial generation. If you want to understand our crop of young adults with their blank stares, their conflict aversion, their utter disengagement from history or heritage, and their sad dreams scuttled early on by the absence of self-discipline, you need to see Boyhood.
The relatable villains here, of course, are the parents, played perfectly by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette who both deserve lots of awards for their efforts. It is hard to imagine the acting challenge of keeping a character developing over a twelve-year arc. The characters they play are children of the Sexual Revolution. They have been ravaged by it’s lies and have emerged without any core of faith or meaning. Their lives are sad and almost inhuman as they try to scrap together some kind of meaning against all the squandering odds of their own narcissism and immaturity. Of course, they have little to offer their son, and he pays mightily because of their dysfunction. Over and over as the young boy is yanked around because of his parent’s bad choices and especially bad relationships, the audience of this piece says to themselves, “This is no way to raise a man.”