Entries Tagged 'Coming of Age' ↓

an education

Don’t be turned off by the “older man/ingenue” plot. Carey Mulligan, as lead character Jenny Mellor is far to clever to get lead down the wrong path, at least for two long. Whip smart, but bored by her teachers and friends at high school, Jenny falls in with a playboy twice her age when she should be focusing on getting into Oxford. The appeal of this grifter, his friends, champagne, and London is too much and Jenny starts cutting class and even hoodwinking her parents into letting her go to Paris with her new beau. Snappy writing by Nick Hornby and a sparkling performance by Carey Mulligan make this film an extremely watchable coming of age story. [UK, 2009]

the journey (sancharram)

This coming of age story set in rural southern India features three friends and a love triangle, and tackles the often forbidden topic of lesbianism. Kiran, Lila, and Rajan are childhood friends in a Catholic area of Kerla in southern India. As they mature, Rajan and Kiran both discover feelings for Lila. Rajan solicits Kiran, a budding writers help in wooing Lila. The resulting heart-felt letters help Kiran and eventually Lila discover the passionate love she holds for her best girlfriend. [us/india, 2004]

eve and the firehorse

If Jesus dances with Buddha, who leads? This is one of the images and questions that will stick with you after seeing Vancouverite Julia Kwan’s first feature and Sundance hit. A mix of magic realism, 70s nostalgia, death and religion, the story is told by a nine-year-old Chinese-Canadian born in the year of the fire horse (babies born in this damned year were typically drowned in the river). After a string of bad luck, the Buddhist sisters turn to Catholicism to secure some everlasting glory for the family. But when the two young sisters shoot for sainthood to “save” the family, it takes them down a path that irrevocably changes their family. [canada, 2006]


Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s dreamy tale of a young Iranian girl’s desire to marry a distant horseman hardly seems subversive, and yet it was banned in Iran. Why? Simply because the story centres on a young woman, and is told from a woman’s point of view. And yet the film, which the director dubs “poetic realism”, is a simple lyrical tale that chronicles the day-to-day activities of tapestry-weaving nomads. What really sets the film apart is its startling visual artistry – vibrant, colourful and surreal. [iran, 2002]

boys don’t cry

Pain spills off the screen in this tragic depiction of a boy trapped in a girl’s body. Hilary Swank nabbed an Oscar for her ingenuous high-wire act as boy-girl Teena Brandon, and Chloe Sevigny dazzles as the fierce lover who yearns to escape her no-way-out life. It’s a bleak portrait of trailer park desperation, and yet it avoids the cheap characters typical of White Trash movies. All the players, from the boozing mom right down to the wounded creeps who commit their brutal acts, are acutely drawn. Intense, graphic, sharply shot, and unforgettable. [us, 1999]

circle of friends

Minnie Driver makes her debut in this quiet coming of age story based on a book by Maeve Binchy. Driver portrays an awkward overweight(!) small-town Irish girl who falls in love with the boy next door (a handsome Chris O’Donnell). Although sometimes overly sentimental, this film is enjoyable for its portrayal of young women struggling with adulthood and a strict Irish Catholic upbringing. [us/uk, 1995]

new waterford girl

Hard not to like Mooney Pottie, a surly 15-year-old geek whose every pore screams “get me out of this stinking seaside town!” That is until a spunky big town, New York gal moves in next door and pulls her out of her stifling funk. Thankfully, nothing in this gritty gem unfolds as expected. The headstrong newcomer cheerfully knocks out errant boyfriends. Pregnant teens flee Aunt Agnes’s Home for Wayward Girls. And Mooney’s unlikely escape plan nearly causes the town a collective nervous breakdown. Full of snarky “go girl” energy, kooky characters, and bleak yet striking scenery. A wicked find. [canada, 1999]


A rootless mother-daughter duo flit from man to man and state to state until they wash up in California. Janet McTeer gives a sexy performance as the exuberant Southern mom whose sardonic daughter acts as counterpoint to her own recklessness. The pair shares a deep intimacy rarely found in teen movies where parents are often cast as morons and peers as catty models in waiting. Mom is so wide open, she teaches her daughter how to kiss using an apple, and later the pair gets giddy on the hilarity of menstruation. Neatly averts cliche. [us, 1999]

never been kissed

It’s hard not to like Drew Barrymore. Her Boticelli roundness and girlish charm are a welcome reprieve from Ally McBeal’s wafer thin flakiness. And she ably inhabits her character as a high school misfit in this goofy comedy about teen humiliation. But in true Hollywood style, she rises above it all, develops poise, and falls for her teacher in a groan-inducing finale. Call it a guilty pleasure. [us, 1999]

ghost world

Thora Birch, the rebellious daughter from American Beauty gives smart, misfit teens another shot of cool. As Enid, she struts through a year of post-high school cynicism decked in yard-sale apparel aiming barbs at big business and the dim-witted. She also struggles through a relationship with her best friend, sparks an odd liaison with a bookish 40-ish record collector, grapples with remedial art school, and fails hilariously at working. Like its protagonist, the film is snarky on the surface, but down deep, it’s the real thing. [us, 2001]