Doug Block is first and foremost a father. He has a daughter named Lucy and he spent 17 years of her life loving her from behind a camera.
Doug Block is first and foremost a filmmaker. He has spent 17 years creating a film about his own paternal leanings — the camera was his crutch.
The Kids Grow Up, Block’s touching documentary on the first 17 years in the life of his daughter Lucy, will be released on Friday, October 29th, and audiences will have to decide for themselves which is the real Doug Block.
Perhaps he is a little of both.
I found myself watching the film and thinking often of my own feelings as a father. My boys are young, and yet I can relate to what I sensed in Block, because I already fear it in myself. I cannot let go.
Doug, as his sage wife Marjorie points out, has a bit of an issue with walking the line between love and attachment. She claims that he suffers from Peter Pan syndrome.
I like to think that there is little of the Lost Boys in all of us. No, I’m not talking about vampires.
Lucy, however, does grow up, and in the process she grows out of her comfort zone in front of the lens. The camera keeps rolling.
At times it is painful to watch. Lucy has a point and a right to her privacy, yet I think it harsh to say that her father is doing anything overtly wrong. There is no malice in his actions, only the seeds of an infinite sadness.
He argues that the day will come when Lucy will be glad to have the footage. It is who she was, and who her father was, at a place in time that will look all the more perfect with the passage of it.
So who is Lucy’s father? He is a man haunted by the relationship with his own father, and some of the more touching scenes in the film are when those topics are addressed between the two of them. Doug Block seems determined to be a bigger part of his child’s life than his dad ever was, even if it is only in the form of a voice-over.
The Kids Grow Up is a poignant reminder of how quickly time passes us by. It is part stopping to smell the roses, and part fighting the urge to press said flowers forever between the arms of a heavy book.
The bottom line is that I am a father and I get it, to the point that I choked up more than once during the film, while having to look away at others. I found myself wishing I had more footage of my own children, and wondering if I’d be in it.
The Kids Grow Up is from the heart and also the hip. It is ugly, and beautiful because of it.
The case can be made for a number of messages, but I am leaving with one drawn from implication; don’t mourn the loss of a childhood when you are still knee-deep in it. Also carpe diem, but that’s a given.