Mixtape  Netflix Review: An Endearing Family Drama Despite Its Familiar Beats
Being parentless at a young age can be a devastating affair. Your whole foundation of personality gets built at that tender age. A parent has a significant role in shaping it, constructing it into a whole – to assist their younglings to make sense of the vast world. Such is the story of the protagonist of the recent Netflix release, Mixtape – a young kid called Beverly Moody. Studying at a school in a suburban neighborhood, she lives along with her grandmother due to her parents’ demise while she was just introduced to the world. She is not to be gloomy all the time as a result of that. While bookish, she appears to be rather fun-loving. But the gap that her parents leave becomes apparent in many of the film’s scenes – with their absence being a part of her personality.
Her parents were punk rockers – who had her at a young age – probably in their late teens when they were not developed enough themselves to understand the responsibilities of the world. In a realistic sense, they were also children, in their initial stages towards stepping into adulthood – not entirely aware of how they can manage to take care of their kid. While the film shares how her parents had died in a car accident when she was barely two years old, the script focuses on the impact that this demise has on her and just as much on her fascination with finding more about these parents.
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The reason for her inclination towards discovering more about her parents seems to be a result of wanting to feel more connected with them. All she has as their presence is in the form of memories – evident mostly through just the photographic evidence. Her grandmother doesn’t seem to have shared much about them with her either. So her interest in knowing more about her parents starts to unravel with a discovery of a mixtape – something that her parents had made at their age of rebellious immaturity. Her curiosity increases to get the songs from one place or the other since that mixtape was damaged due to the issues with her walkman. Through her proceeding research, she comes across a bearded guy from a local record store – who seems to be as old as her parents would have been if they were alive – someone who hasn’t grown up from his adolescence spirit of being anti to everything. In spirit, he comes across as what her parents could have been like if they were alive.
With him on one side and her over-protective grandmother on the other, Beverly’s conundrum is conveyed with the required innocence. Having lived a sheltered life since she was born, that record store guy presents a possibility to discover another side of her – to be a little carefree now and then and not worry to be turning into her parents. Her character development falls on the same conflict – whether to find the joy of rebellious behavior and keep up with that behavior or to be the obedient, ideal child that her grandmother wants her to be. The writing keeps enough sweetness with its interactions and dialogues to make the film engaging and warmhearted. That sweetness also comes across from an attempt of each of its characters to feel more connected with one another.
For a fairly predictable script, these elements add much of the emotional levity to ‘Mixtape’. The film does not go much beyond what such narratives tend to achieve and becomes another warm affair of a family film. However, the editing keeps it in a balance of breezy and upbeat notes while making sense of the emotional growth of its protagonist. The world looked at through her innocent eyes makes the narration seem as fascinating as it does to her.
The musical bits add a retro feel to the film, which also creates a connection between past and present that is evident in the script. The performances by Julie Bowen (known for her role in ‘Modern Family’) and by the young actors are just as lovely to witness – making the film’s tearjerker moments emotionally potent. The music makes the film feel more energetic while being cute due to its inherent nature. ‘Mixtape’ certainly deviates from being just an out-an-out nostalgia trip – by using such elements of music, of rebellious nature of the rock music, of the family in its screenplay as an intrinsic part of their mutual journey. The connection of these also creates a warmth in it which makes it fairly suitable to be that cozy film you would want to watch with your family on a Christmas holiday.