The filmmaker started twelve plus years ago with a child actor. His character Mason is the boy of the title, and we follow him from early awareness to his start at college. It’s two hours and forty six minutes but it clips along just like life. In fact, as the article that got me interested said (link below) we watch twelve years in only three hours or so, and the pace or compression of time leads us — like Mason — to ask the really big question — to me, the only question that matters: what is it all about.
A sequence in the second half of the film has adoptive grandparents attend church with Mason and his sister, and they give Mason a Bible as a grad present. I felt his bewilderment. It wouldn t have cut any ice for 16 year old me, either. Both church and Bible are another world and as a viewer I saw my church weirdness reflected back at me. Had Bruce Cockburn not come along, or Schumacher’s Guide for the Perplexed, I might never have found a bridge to get across to Christian faith. Who might be bridgemakers now? Ragamuffin Gospel? Shane Claiborne? I’m at a loss.
The film ends with Mason’s new roommate making a kind of existential affirmation of the power of nature and a desert sunset. As I watched it seemed like one more random thing but now I ll have to go back and see if it’s not a key.