The empty nest looms like the existential void in “The Kids Grow Up,” documentarian Doug Block’s latest examination of the mysteries of the family. Having explored his parents’ marriage in “51 Birch Street,” here he focuses his lens at even shorter range as he suffers through the final year at home for his college-bound only child.
For those who can get past his self-involvement, “Kids” strikes more than a few deep chords. Block wears his neuroses so guilelessly on his sleeve and organizes his material with such skill, that what might have been insufferable navel-gazing attains poignancy.
The director has been filming his daughter, Lucy, since she was a pint-size living-room ballerina. As she prepares for school on the opposite side of the country and becomes involved in her first serious relationship, Block feels shut out, even as the camera gives him certain license. Lucy and his wife, Marjorie -- both preternaturally discerning -- are active participants as much as they are raw material. Still, Lucy grows increasingly exasperated with his negotiated intrusions, the eye-rolling giving way to tears.
Drawing upon a lifetime of footage of Lucy as well as home movies of himself as a child, Block and his masterful editor, Maeve O’Boyle, find resonant rhyming images. Block struggles to accept the limits of intimacy while his wife points out, with Zen clarity, the difference between love and attachment. Most affectingly, the filmmaker shows that however many moments he records and “captures,” many more are lost in the unstoppable rush of time.
“The Kids Grow Up.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.