When Growing Up Means Growing Old: Coming Of Age Movies Every Boy & Girl Needs To See
Relatively recent, still relevant coming of age movies you need in your life
As anyone can tell you, the coming-of-age genre is heavily saturated with movies and books and soundtracks that can fill a teenager’s life to the brim. Not all are made equal—not acted, directed, written and felt equal. Some you can speak about for just ten minutes before getting bored; some stick with you for life. Some you learn from over and over again, even when you’ve already—technically—come of age.
Bridge To Terabithia (2007)
Is there a more heartbreaking-yet-hopeful movie than Bridge To Terabithia? I didn’t watch this film until two years ago and I definitely got more than I was ready for.
When 12-year-old outcast Jess (Josh Hutcherson) finally finds a friend in Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb), his life is suddenly filled with so much more color. His afternoons are full of adventures and his world is opened to another dimension. He learns what friendship is; he experiences all the best that it can offer and all the strength that it gives you.
Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging (2008)
While Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging didn’t get much marketing here, it certainly got enough internet attention for it to warrant a download and watch during a too-long break between classes.
Georgia Nicholson (Georgia Groome) is all of us at 14 years old: awkward, obsessed with her looks, embarrassed by her immediate family, crushing hard on a guy and looking to break through those shallow levels of intimacy. But as she desperately tries to tick everything off her list, her eagerness makes a mess of everything, of which she’s not quite sure how to clean up.
Juno came out when I was in high school and while I definitely couldn’t relate to the teenage pregnancy scare, I could relate to her awkwardness, curiosity and need to find some stability. What emotional 16-year-old doesn’t feel that, too?
In Ellen Page’s defining role as Juno, we see her deny love only to realize it’s all she ever really wanted—in all its simplicity and quietness and complication and strength. And no, we definitely don’t just mean the romantic kind.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
It was a new year when Call Me By Your Name hit Philippine theaters and I was desperate to watch it. The premise of the story—two boys falling in love in beautiful 1980s Italy—had me hooked from the beginning of trailer. And it didn’t disappoint, not in its storyline, cinematography, acting or writing.
The love of Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) wasn’t the forbidden kind, at least not in the way you would expect. The two boys grow into their love for each other one hot summer as they swim, make music and quite literally taste the best things that the countryside has to offer. Underneath the sun and moon, they meet and give each other their names. And they would have had the happiest of endings—I’m sure of it—if life just didn’t get in the way.
The Hows Of Us (2018)
On the surface, The How’s Of Us might seem like your run-of-the-mill Pinoy love story. After all, it stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla and is directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina. The synopsis isn’t as promising either; the film follows a young couple as they fall in love and have to deal with the very-real struggles of life and long-term romance.
But these struggles are more than the standard third party or a disapproving parent. As George and Primo, Bernardo and Padilla show what it’s like when love cannot keep you together. They painfully show us what it’s like to fall on your ass because you let love be the only thing that keeps you together.
As a heartbreaking plus, Bernardo shares a moment with Juan Miguel Severo where they discuss how the lessons we learn in life often keep us from being truly happy.
I Want To Eat Your Pancreas (2018)
When aloof Haruki Shiga comes across the diary of Yamauchi Sakura, he learns that his classmate is suffering from a sickness that will eventually take her life. It’s a secret that no one knows and bridges the two together for the time that they have.
In a way, I Want To Eat Your Pancreas is very The Fault In Our Stars—but there’s a reason the anime made it to this list and John Green’s novel-turned-movie did not. The contrast between Shiga and Sakura, down to the meaning behind their names, makes for the perfect equation. He’s unfeeling and quiet while she’s popular and intelligent; they’re complete opposites until they meet each other.
Someone Great (2019)
Like every decent breakup movie, Someone Great mixes in some adventure with close friends and too-close close encounters with the ex-significant other. What seems to really set it apart, however, is that it isn’t so much about the journey of getting over someone as it is about accepting that things have changed. And isn’t that usually what we have trouble with the most anyway? It’s having to understand that who you thought was your life was only meant to be a chapter.
But Someone Great isn’t just about a romance lost; it’s about breaking up with your independence to let someone in and letting go of the familiar and trivial in order to make room for something—someone—that you truly deserve. Plus, the soundtrack is pretty amazing.
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Technically speaking, coming of age movies should tackle the transition between the mess of teenage years and adulthood. But as we’ve all come to learn, one doesn’t cross the finish line of #adulting with their first paycheck or first promotion or a successful rebound; it’s a goddamn Snakes & Ladders game that will bring you back to Tile 1 just as you finally see the end on the horizon.
So cry and laugh and feel something. Watch coming of age movies. Learn.
Art Alexandra Lara