Collin Blair’s short film Skip The Youth provides a realistic and emotional portrayal of the relationship between a mother and her son. This relationship is complicated by the presence of the mother’s ailing health. The two main characters have different approaches in dealing with this issue and what is shown through unfiltered language and joking remarks is the gripping inevitability of having to say goodbye. It’s a film about coming to terms with letting go of a loved one. Sometimes that means actually resisting having to say goodbye while also trying to fulfill the obligation of putting their wishes before your own concerns.
The language in this film is not glossed over as is the case in many films dealing with family life. There are a couple of moments where the two main characters are cursing and that profanity helps express the closeness between the mother and son. It breaks down the barriers of conventional family life and explores more of the raw behaviors of domesticity. They mock each other and talk about death quite freely because it really is the elephant in the room and it cannot be avoided. So, they embrace its approaching presence and it becomes a significant part of the narrative in how they speak and act around each other.
The informal language also helps add levity to an otherwise serious situation and it reminds the audience that though this is a story about loss, the threat of the loss does not need to overshadow the entertainment of the relationship between the mother and son.
At several points in the film they discuss her death in comedic terms. The mother suggests that he should take her out to their shed and shoot her. He casually says “stop being a drama queen.” She proceeds to make more suggestions and it’s clear that there isn’t much else to do in this situation but create some humor. I personally found that interesting and true of life because the most serious situations are also usually ones that are also ripe with comedy.
There are more intense and grave scenes in the film as well. One of them is when the mother confesses a regret for her son. She thinks she should’ve pushed him more to have a life outside of taking care of her. She wishes he had more friends, perhaps so that she would have the consolation of knowing that he will be okay after she is gone. This conversation is one of my favorite parts in the film because it expresses a real concern on her part that can’t be hidden with good humor.
There’s also a bit of a role reversal here too because the son is taking care of the mother and he has sort of assumed the parental role while she has a more childish and playful sensibility of the situation. For example, he has to push her to take her pills and also she is the one joking more while he is a bit more serious. When she seriously does discuss him meeting new people though, he says “What new people?” I thought that was telling of exactly how he views life after his mom is gone. Perhaps, he can’t even see it because he is still latching onto some hope. The question and the semi snarky way he asks it shows that he doesn’t think beyond their life together and that he isn’t interested in expanding the people in his life at that moment. He’s only focused on her and caring for her. It’s all he can bring himself to think about because he’s not ready to say goodbye.
One of the most beautiful pieces of dialogue is when she says “It’s not your job.” He replies “You don’t get to say that to me. You don’t ever get to say that to me.” There is just that natural, compelling bond there that is coming out of obligation, but that has love at its foundation. To him, it’s not even something to think about or doubt because it’s not just a job to take care of her. It’s something he has to do as much for himself as for her. It’s his way of dealing with the pain of eventually losing her. In the same sense, trying to push him away a bit and get him to be a part of the outside world is her way of giving him a future.
The fact that most of the film takes place in their house and that it’s just these two characters with the exception of the hospice, further emphasizes the significance of their relationship. In the end, it’s a story about the imperfect, push and pull of their love. There aren’t really any scenes of the outside world because the movie is zooming in on their world. It’s showing how special and fleeting their piece of the world is because it’s about to change forever.