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Editors’ Picks: coming of age

This month, we’re covering coming of age films.

By Epigram Film & TV

This month, we’re covering coming of age films – August and the summer time tends to be a staple of teen movies, along with indie soundtracks and fraught parental relationships. Here are some of our picks for coming of age viewing.

Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), dir. Marielle Heller

Maddy Raven, Film & TV Editor

Diary of a Teenage Girl is based off the graphic novel and autobiography of Phoebe Gloeckner. It follows the story of Minnie, a fifteen-year-old girl living in San Francisco in the late seventies, on a quest to lose her virginity and explore her burgeoning sexuality. She manages to do this, however, by entering into an ill-advised relationship with her mother’s boyfriend – this is of course, shockingly inappropriate, especially due to the revelatory performance by Bel Powley as Minnie, and her childish mannerisms (you may recognise her as Daisy from M.I. High (2007-2014)!).

The film is hilarious, but also incredibly sad. Most of all, it feels truthful: so close to the bone that it aches to watch at times. Though the moral, it seems, is self-love, I think that most importantly, we must protect young girls.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

An Education (2009), dir. Lone Scherfig

Sam Vickers, Deputy Editor

Based on Lynn Barber’s memoir, An Education is an astonishing study of youth, love and heartbreak. Carey Mulligan stars as Jenny in this breakthrough performance, the high achieving daughter of an overbearing father, she finds herself caught up in the glamorous world of a mysterious older man, David. The story tracks Jenny’s gradual foray into adulthood as she comes ever closer to finding out the heart-breaking truth.

The atmosphere is everything in this film and the tension builds gradually until the vicious, tragic climax. All of this comes as Jenny is applying to the University of Oxford and ultimately ruins her chances at this education; by the end of the film, it becomes clear, however, that her entanglement with David is her true education.

With excellent supporting performances from Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike and Alfred Molina, the casting is one of this film’s strongest assets. Beautifully shot and extremely well-paced, An Education is a moving and timeless depiction of a girl growing up too quickly.

Courtesy of IMDb

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) dir. Taika Waititi

Katya Spiers, Digital Editor

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an offbeat coming-of-age story about derailed teenager Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), raised on hip-hop and abandonment, and gruff and insensitive foster-father, Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), who are roped together unexpectedly to escape authority through the ‘majestical’ New Zealand bush. A bit Wes Anderson, a bit Up (2009), but wholeheartedly original, like the badass haikus that Ricky comes up with over the course of the adventure.

With witty dialogue and dark humour that remove it from the clichés that typify the genre, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is sentimental without being cloying. Aggressively quotable and re-watchable, it is the perfect film to carry you through to the new term, with the Alessi Brothers’ Seabird playing you out long past the closing credits.

Courtesy of IMDb

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), dir. Hayao Miyazaki

Layla Nathan, Sub-editor

Studio Ghibli creates a heartwarming coming-of-age experience in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Thirteen year old Kiki is a young witch who, per ancient traditions, must leave home for a year to make a living in a different town. Kiki is an endearing, multifaceted character and watching her grow up and learn to face realities in order to gain independence is very rewarding.

Whilst still being a fantasy, one of the movies core elements is the concept of financial independence from parents, which is a key part of coming of age in real life that is less often seen in movies. What I love about this film is that Kiki’s coming of age doesn’t come easily to her at all (growing pains and mistakes are things we can all relate to) but they make her journey all the more heartwarming to watch.

Courtesy of IMDb / Studio Ghibli, 1989

Featured: IMDb, Sony Pictures Classics, Studio Ghibli

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