"We're Having a Heat Wave, a tropical heat wave." What better excuse to go to the movies....every day.... and not feel like a loser!!!! That would be me! I love the movies and the heat gives me a good cover for indulging myself.
This weekend I saw three movies I absolutely loved. Two of them, Hearts Beat Loud and Leave No Trace, though extremely different and each very unique, explore similar themes.
In Hearts Beat Loud, a single dad with a teenage daughter struggles to let go and recognize his daughter's need to define herself and her future. Both dad and daughter are musicians, and this bond has been something that has given each of them a means of expression for both their individual and collective deep wells of emotion, as well as a shared connection. Sam an 18 year old young woman now finds herself torn between her father's expectations and her own dreams and aspirations.
In Leave No Trace, a single father dealing with war related PTSD chooses to raise his daughter off the grid, living in the wilderness of Oregon. They are a well-oiled machine and team as they survive and thrive living in the wilderness. With quiet and solitude and enormous love and respect for each other they move through their life together, until the "real world" intervenes and challenges them both to decide what's is best for their "survival." Tom, a 13 year old girl, just discovering her "self" as separate from her dad, and in the throes of developing her own identity finds herself having to make difficult life choices. For those of you in the boston area, there will be a special screening on July 6th at the Coolidge theater in Brookline with a Q&A with the producer of the film Linda Reisman and Boston Globe columnist.Meredith Goldstein.
Both of these movies are powerful, emotional and absolutely exquisite, and address a fundamental element of Adolescence. A major task of Adolescence is to develop a personal identity; what are my values, my interests, my passions, what are the qualities I look for in friends and lovers, what is my sexual identity, what are my goals? etc. Part of this process is also to look closely at the people who raised them, and analyze how they are both different and the same from them. I always say that having a teen in the house is like having your own personal therapist. With this new brain of theirs, they are able to really look at you without the cloud of perfection that hovered over you in their childhood. Why the hell do these kids have to grow up?????? They are now free to share with you their thoughts and ideas about you! Unfortunately much of what they share is the stuff we already don't like about ourselves. Having them be so honest can be very uncomfortable. But if you can listen without hurt or defensiveness, you might learn something new and potentially useful about yourself. More importantly it is part of the process of figuring out who they are.
As teens start thinking for themselves, they might start to go down paths that parents aren't comfortable with. I'm not talking about unsafe or risky behavior, but life choices about what they like to do, where they might want to go to college, and ultimately what they want to do with their life. Most parents have dreams for their kids. In healthy families, parents keep those dreams to themselves waiting to see what path their children seem most interested in, even if it means parents giving up their own dreams for their kids. In some families, parent's dreams for their kids is more of a requirement than an option. We call that Identity foreclosure, when the option of choosing one's own identity is taken away from them. Both of these movies look deeply at this issue. I think it would be heaven to go with your teen and share these movies with them. As always they may or may not choose to talk about them afterward, but sometimes just sharing special moments and experiences is just fine, no heavy sharing required. If your teens seem resistant, then please, you go see them. Grab your partner, your friend, your parent and allow these movies to envelop you.
The third movie I absolutely loved was Won't You Be My Neighbor. For those of you raised on Mr. Rogers or used him as an in-house babysitter this will resonate. I literally was crying so hard at the end that I had to lock myself in a bathroom stall and let it all out!!! But then again, I am a bit of a crier!!! I never really understood what the mission of this man was. I just remember plunking my daughter in front of the tube hoping his sickly sweetness would keep her occupied so I could do whatever. But, it turns out that Mr. Rogers was a teacher, a philosopher and a lover of humanity. What he really wanted to do was make all children feel understood and accepted. He addressed difficult feelings and life issues like divorce and death and bullying, 9/11, segregation...you name it. He was a man so ahead of his time and so misunderstood. There are many many many powerful moments in this movie, and it left me thinking, that literally, if every person in the world saw this movie we would have world peace!! Yes this movie is that monumental.
So OK, we're in a heat wave, go buy some popcorn and a soda and lose yourself in these films. They are guaranteed to move you!!!!