I'm going to say something quite surprising: I've been enjoying coming of age films for the past few days. So why is it surprising? It is so because I never thought I'd include it in my list of favorite genre. I mean I do watch adolescent films from time to time but I never thought they'd be one of my favorite genre now. Good news, I have found five worth watching coming of age films that I swear by and will definitely recommend to others so be sure to check them out!
Directed and written by Sally Potter
Running time 90 minutes
Starring Elle Fanning and Alice Englert, Ginger and Rosa tells the story of two 17-year old girls who grew up together and have been inseparable friends ever since. They dress the same, skip school together and talk about love, religion and politics and dream about lives that are beyond their mother's domesticity. What seemingly an innocent, joyful friendship is then shaken by the threat of a nuclear war. Ginger who dreams about being a poet and Rosa who leads a wild and rebellious life began experiencing a fallout in their friendship as the two face different perspectives on what it means to be alive, to save oneself or the world. Set in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ginger and Rosa is a highly recommended coming of age film that is not only beautiful by cinematography but is also intensely captivating, raw and sincere in terms of story and performance, especially from Elle Fanning who portrays a true embodiment of teenage angst almost naturally.
I actually mentioned about this film before in this post.
Directed by Wes Anderson / Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Running time 94 minutes
Ah, Wes Anderson. Who doesn't know him? You probably know him from The Grand Budapest Hotel which was such a hit last year. If you have watched Grand Budapest and love the way Mr. Anderson's style then without further ado, you should definitely watch Moonrise Kingdom, a hilarious coming-of-age film about orphan Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop who decided to run away together in the name of love. Introverted, intelligent and considered mature for their age, both Sam and Suzy made a pact and decide to live in the wilderness as runaways, constantly trying to escape from various authority figures such as Suzy's family and Sam's scout leader from the summer camp he was supposedly attending. Innocent, funny and beautiful, this is the kind of growing up film that you can enjoy and appreciate not only for its technicalities but also its confident, nostalgic atmosphere.
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon / Written by Jesse Andrews
Running time 105 minutes
Starring Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler and Olivia Cooke as lanky, self-loathing narrator Greg Graines, his co-worker Earl Jackson and former childhood friend, Rachel Kushner respectively, this film gives me the same feeling that I had when I first watched Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel) in terms of its screenplay. Based on a novel written by Jesse Andrews himself, this is the story of three high school misfits who have to face the art of adulting and death in middle-class Pittsburgh. When Greg is forced to befriend a classmate who is diagnosed with stage IV leukemia, that's where the story takes its course. You'd think that, judging from the title, it's a tear-jerker film that will make you weep throughout — guess what, it's not! There is actually laughter in this film. Yes, you heard that right — there are laughter and insightful jokes that make it easier for me to enjoy the film and characters overall. After all, at one point, we are Greg Graines, the awkward, invisible high school kid who doesn't know how to handle adulting and emotional situation.
For someone who has not read the book herself, the film itself is not a bad one. I actually like it and I did not regret watching it. Please, please please do not compare this to John Green's The Fault In Our Stars because one, I have not watched (and have no interest) in TFIOS and second, my gut personally thinks Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is actually more fitting for my taste.
Directed and Written by Richard Ayoade
Running time 97 minutes
An underrated British coming-of-age film, Submarine tells the story of 15-year old Oliver Tate whose live in Swansea is preoccupied by two very big ambitions clogging his mind: one, his infatuation with pyromaniac classmate Jordana Bevan (and the urge to lose his virginity before his next birthday) and two, to save his parents' marriage. After a plan suggested by Jordana backfires, Oliver began his duty as "the best boyfriend ever" while at the same time, keep his parents' sex life under surveillance in case of potential fallout. The film mold itself as a journey about growing up without wanting to grow older, an example given by Oliver who seemingly avoids confrontation and emotional events surrounding him and the person he supposedly has to support. It's a film about the raw innocence and stupidity of a clueless, infatuated boy trying to progress through life even if he doesn't want or know how to. It is dark, it's ridiculous and definitely feels like a classic.
Directed by Peter Jackson / Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens
Running time 135 minutes
I just cannot not mention The Lovely Bones (based on a novel by Alice Sebold entitled the same). Even though it may sound weird to some that I have included The Lovely Bones in the list, I find that it's worth mentioning because coming of age is defined by a story about the growth of a protagonist from young to adulthood. In the case of The Lovely Bones, the concept of it is defined through the death of Susie Salmon and her journey into finally letting go of things and accepting the reality that she is no longer in the same universe as her family. The art of letting go is also seen from Susie's family, particularly from her dad who became obsessed with finding out the truth behind his daughter's death. It's an absolutely breathtaking, beautifully crafted film about grief, forgiveness and letting go.
Have you watched any of these films? If you have any more recommendation, you can leave them in the comments below!