• Caitlin

COMMENDED: Coming of Age

Valentina in Year 8 shares a brilliant list of her favourite Coming of Age Films.


From first love to first heartbreak, and every other emotion in between, Coming-of-Age is a rite of passage. There are many paths from adolescence to adulthood and many milestones which define when the transition happens but one thing is for sure, it happens to us all and can be a tumultuous time.


It could be your first love, a loss of innocence, or new responsibilities, but no matter how it happens, the bittersweet nostalgia that goes along with it lasts a lifetime. The best coming-of-age movies tap into something inside each of us that is so relatable that regardless of background, the experience is universal. At times, being a teenager can feel so intense and emotions can swing from moments of utter joy to complete devastation and over the years, some classic movies about growing up have been made and here are some of my favourite Coming-of-Age films of all time…


6: The Breakfast Club (1985)

In my opinion, one of the best coming-of-age movies of all time. The plot is based around a group of high school students, from different backgrounds and social groups at school who have to spend a Saturday in detention together with their strict head teacher. They each have to write a thousand-word essay describing ‘who you think you are”. They pass the time by arguing but eventually open up to each other revealing their inner most thoughts and secrets which bonds them and makes them realise that despite their differences, they all have similar problems in life. Their day spent together in detention will change the way they all look at their peers in the future, giving them all a greater understanding of their differences.


5: Clueless (1995)

Based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel 'Emma', but set in modern-day Beverly Hills, the film focuses on Cher who is a rich, beautiful, popular, yet shallow high school student. While on the surface, she comes across as superficial, this hides her charm and intelligence which helps her deal with relationships, friends, family, school and the all-important teenage social life. The ultimate unrequited love story, Clueless follows the ups and downs of teenage angst and trying to fit in while at the same time teaching the audience about the importance of following your heart.

4: Love, Simon (2018)

This is a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy, Simon Spier, who has a huge secret from his family, friends and classmates. He’s gay and hasn’t told anyone. In the film he develops a connection over email with a boy called Blue but he has no idea who Blue is. The film centres around him trying to find out who Blue is while at the same time, trying to find himself and come to terms with his own identity. This is a beautiful film which highlights the struggles of coming out to those close to you while still figuring out who you really are.


3: Mean Girls (2004)

Set in a high school and starring Lindsay Lohan, the film explores the concept of High School social cliques and the damaging effects they can have on girls. On her first day at a new school, Sixteen-year-old Cady Heron tries to make friends but with no luck. The next day she makes friends with Damian and Janis who educate her on the school’s various cliques and warn her to avoid the most popular one called “The Plastics”. The film

follows the ups and downs of the girl’s friendships across the whole of the school hierarchy. Coming in at number three on my list, this film is a classic, reminding the audience just how hard navigating friendships at school can actually be.


2: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a 1986 American teen comedy film, written, produced and directed by John Hughes. Starring Mathew Broderick as Ferris, he decides to skip school for the day with his friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane. His parents think he is really poorly although his sister does not believe him. Borrowing Cameron’s father’s Ferrari for the day, Ferris promises he will return it as good as new. Set in Chicago, throughout the film, the character of Ferris, often talks to the audience about his friends and life. The film explores the relationship between Ferris and his principal who is convinced Ferris is a repeat truant and determined to prove it. If nothing else, the most iconic line in the movie earns this movie number two on my list: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”


1: Dirty Dancing (1987)

Set in 1963, Frances “Baby” Houseman, a sweet daddy’s girl, goes on holiday with her family to a resort in the Catskill Mountains. Baby comes from a privileged background and has her life all mapped out in front of her. She's never disobeyed her father in her life. The film watches “Baby” grow up over the course of the summertime and when she meets dance instructor Johnny Castle, a man whose background is very different from her own, she realises just how small her world has been. He opens her eyes to a world of dance and having to make tough decisions which changes her forever. Johnny makes Baby realise that she is capable of much more than anyone gives her credit for. With an amazing soundtrack of 60’s classic songs, Dirty Dancing, is a giant when it comes to coming-of age movies. And with its iconic line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” it is without a doubt at the top of the pile for me.

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