A dramatic title – but fittingly so. The coming-of-age film hold’s so much resonance. In one form or another, a coming-of-age movie can reaffirm your lust for life, and your want for adventure. They take you back to a time when the world felt as though it was at your fingertips, and it hits you right in the feels when necessary. For this, we will call this kind of film a genre – a genre that holds a whole lot of power, intelligence and an aura of total cool. Everybody loves a bit of cool, right? There are tonnes of coming-of-age dramas, comedies and so on but this post is dedicated to just three. Beyond Clueless, a documentary that will count down and celebrate this genre has had its release, and for a more varied look into this form of cinema hit it up. For now, join me in remembering three of the best that take you back to your youth and inspire you to seek out all you wish to achieve in your life. Lets go. Quick note: Rather than a count down of 1-3, the films featured are being appreciated in equal measure, for they all have their merits and stand out as some of the best we’ve seen.
Directed by Cameron Crowe, a director celebrated for his authentic (however eccentric that may be) look at life, and his inspiring authorial work on an array of fantastic features. Released in 2001 and starring Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Patrick Fugit and narrator of Beyond Clueless, Fairuza Balk, Crowe’s film explores life on the road as Fugit’s William embarks on a tour with Crudup’s band Stillwater. This is rock N’ roll storytelling at its very best, with a killer soundtrack to match. Crowe successfully manages to avoid band-movie cliches and instead delivers a piece of enigmatic cinema full of realistic youthful moments as played out by Fugit. William‘s naivety, genuine passion for music and want for adventure are all characteristics that help make him one of the most loveable protagonists on film and his adolescent wisdom is portrayed rather wonderfully. Lost at sea seems an appropriate metaphor, for 15 year old William is in over his head in a world dominated by sex, drugs, booze, rivalry and hella-cool surroundings including the legendary ‘Riot House’ on Sunset. You’ll want to be transported back to the 1970’s (whether or not you grew up in this decade) and Crowe’s film will change your view on life. Now a cult picture, Almost Famous is a near-perfect portrayal of life on the road – with all of the highs and lows that come along with it.
The Spectacular Now
Recently reviewed with a gleaming five stars (if I awarded stars, anyway) The Spectacular Now is possibly the most realistic portrayal of a teenage relationship ever seen on screen. Painfully under-appreciated in the mainstream world, but praised with high recognition from critics and the festival circuit, James Pondsolt’s film is a heart-wrenching depiction of the difficulty of growing up and accepting responsibility. Interestingly, Pondsolt concentrates on Miles Teller’s Sutter‘s lack of enthusiasm to move on to higher education, for he loves the here and now at highschool. Popular amongst students, and with a charismatic charm that is truly infectious, Sutter embodies the woes, worries and excitement that comes with being 17 and in love. Shaileene Woodley provides support in the way of smart and loving Aimee who will only see the best in those around her. The pair are an absolute treat to watch together and Pondsolt’s direction of their un-dramatized relationship is a genre defining package. Come the end the tears will flow, and come the days after, you will still be recalling what you watched and how it made you feel. The Spectacular Now is independent cinema at its best and truly powerful that brings a simple, yet effective, spin to the coming-of-age formula.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chobsky’s film, which he adapted from his own novel, is a stab right in the heart. Don’t worry – in a good way. Exploring the domestic issues of being a teenager, Chobsky creates a whimsical tale of first loves, abuse, suicide, mental health, and homophobia in 1990’s suburban America. A heavy watch in many aspects, what we are left with is a film of great depth and emotion. Logan Lermanm, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller star as friends Charlie, Sam and Patrick who navigate the difficulty that comes with being ‘different’ in an environment which hardly allows it. Charlie‘s innocent narration of the events unfolding around him are perfectly scripted, and easily relatable, for he is at an age where he is open to new, and exciting (albeit slightly dangerous) thing’s that we all, at one point, felt compelled to try. Lermann’s performance is stellar and Charlie is epitomized in some way or another as all of us. A poignant look at adolescence, a time where we believe life is infinite, and we are unstoppable – really rather lovely.