Coming of age movies often tend to focus on the more fun and wild side of school; The build up to prom for example, or the first dance/graduation. While all of the movies discussed below contain a young protagonist just trying to get to the next step in their lives, none of it is done with ease.
It’s not done in the typical unrealistic Hollywood way, it’s authentic. It’s a true insight into real life and for a young woman, it sure as hell is comforting to watch. What these movies have in common is everyone will be able to relate to the protagonist in one way or the other.
These four different movies are the new generation of ‘Coming of age’ flicks focusing on female characters, female friendships and the struggles of growing up.
After a devastating break up on the eve of her move to San Fransisco, Jenny enjoys one last NYC adventure with her two best pals. Someone Great is a romantic comedy about love, loss, growth and the everlasting bond of female friendship.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson made this coming of age film for the women that have technically come of age (mid-20s). But this movie reveals the hard truth that in your adult years, you’re still learning to find yourself. Someone Great has personal stories that the viewers can relate to and has a diverse cast of very talented leading ladies to tell those stories.
With this movie, Robinson breaks the mould of a typical Hollywood rom-com by containing so much more substance. We don’t get the fairytale ending in this movie, Jenny and Nate don’t get back together. Sure, it focuses on their relationship and their love but actually, Someone Great is about a woman learning to love herself, with the support of other women around her.
In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.
Greta Gerwig perfectly captures that desire of wanting more. Wanting that picture-perfect life that you dream of while showing warts and all of a girl on the brink of adulthood really does resonate with young women. Especially young women that don’t live in the ‘Big Apple’ like old teen movies (Lindsey Lohan, I’m looking at you). It resonates with women that feel stuck in a quiet little town, stuck in there mundane lives. This is a love letter to everyone coming into their age that feels like they haven’t truly lived their lives yet.
On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.
Booksmart (2019) from director Olivia Wilde is one brilliant coming-of-age movie. It depicts all areas of High School life: from your first crush, anxiety-inducing house parties and even realising you’re not always going to be the best at something.
On top of this, Kaitlyn and Beanie’s chemistry is what makes this movie as believable as possible. This is a beautiful, moving, honest, body-positive, groundbreaking, feminist, empowering and hilarious coming of age story (and breathe).
An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.
Eighth Grade was directed by comedian Bo Burnham. Yes granted Bo isn’t a female director like the other flicks I’ve talked about above, but what Bo has done with Eighth Grade is made it so real and self-reflexive about the way it portrays a young girl transitioning to a teenager.
What makes this film so special for anyone watching it. Especially the portrayal of teenagers, and more specifically, teenage girls. Kayla’s utter desperation to be popular, confident, and beautiful is gut-wrenching to watch. Some scenes will have your heart aching because, as the viewer, you desperately want Kayla to just love herself.
It will hit close to home for many as the seamless acting and dialogue make for something so much more real than any other movie. Elsie Fisher’s performance is brilliant and sincere – you forget you’re watching an actor and not a documentary as she just reflects the truth of hundreds of teenagers going through that uncomfortable, lonely and awkward period of their lives.
The New Standard For Coming Of Age Films
I am absolutely here for the comforting, relatable and just brilliant revival of these female teen coming-of-age films. All of these movies have created a new standard for coming of age films. Like Cabin In the Woods made the Horror genre acknowledge and confront their cliches and work around them. Someone Great, Lady Bird, Book Smart and Eighth Grade are all those movies for teenagers.