Explore love, friendship, and growing pains in these 13 coming-of-age films from both local and international producers.
Coming-of-age is a special genre that marries all the craziness of youth with the melancholy of growing up. Movies in the genre make us laugh, cry, hurt, and realize a few things about life and ourselves. Both local and international productions capture the essence of youth in a myriad of ways, and hopefully you’ll find something special to love in the list of coming-of-age films that are perfect to watch on a rainy day below.
This highly-stylized anthology film directed by Glenn Barit revolves around the stories of a group of students who were designated classroom “cleaners” in the 2000s. Produced with authentic performances from actual students from Tuguegarao in their first acting roles, a killer soundtrack and aesthetic, an exploration of themes surrounding “cleanliness”, and a genuine desire to tell the stories of the youth, Cleaners offers a raw, unique look at the Catholic high school experience and was easily said to be one of the greatest films of 2019.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (2012)
No coming-of-age film watchlist is complete without this drama based on Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel. Perks follows the life of kind, timid Charlie struggling with mental health issues and finding his way in the world with his newfound friends. It may now be cliché defining moment in the Tumblr era, but the film’s depth, performances, and quote-worthy dialogue make it a must to watch.
DEATH OF NINTENDO (2020)
A trip to the 90s and all the shenanigans and troubles of leaving a childhood behind adds up to a funny, charming jaunt in Death of Nintendo. As four friends on the cusp of childhood and adolescence navigate their firsts—first loves, first heartbreak, first time truly understanding their realities and relationships—they experience firsthand how growing up could be as earthshaking as an erupting volcano.
LADY BIRD (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s successful drama about the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter is a coming-of-age masterpiece about girlhood, family, belonging, and growing up. Well-written, emotional, funny, and presenting an honest, relevant story, Lady Bird is one of those films that stick with you forever.
Smart, overachiever best friends Amy and Molly try to make the most of their senior year after realizing that they might have wasted their entire high school life. They embark on an outrageous night of partying, romance, and drama as one last hurrah. Fast, witty, and wild, Booksmart is a fun take on high school stereotypes and growing up.
DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)
O Captain! My Captain! This heart-wrenching tale about a group of boys at an all-male boarding school and their new, unorthodox teacher is a classic drama film beloved by multiple generations. The boys learn all about freedom and love in its many forms, and it’s nothing short of beautiful and emotional.
TOY STORY 3 (2010)
No, this one isn’t lost from another movie list. Toy Story 3 is a coming-of-age not just because Andy has to let go of his toys, but because every character’s life is being upended by the realities of growing up and they have to accept the changes as they come. Also, there is no way to not cry at the end of this film.
ANG NAWAWALA (2012)
This Cinemalaya 2012 Audience Choice-winning film follows a selectively-mute Gibson as he returns to his hometown for the holidays, a time wherein his family is reminded of a tragedy that occurred years prior. Set against the local music scene, Ang Nawawala sees Gibson reconnect with old friends, fall for a free-spirit, and navigate a life after loss.
LOVE, SIMON (2018)
Coming-of-age…coming out…there’s a correlation there, of course. The closeted Simon Spier exchanges messages with a mysterious boy named Blue and is blackmailed into helping set up a classmate with his friend. He faces all sorts of trouble such as the possibility of being outed, initially-unsupportive friends, and the terrifying ordeal of being known in this rom-com all about teenhood, love, and acceptance.
I’M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU (2017)
Love and coming into adulthood by facing what lies ahead are intertwined in this film about two college best friends going on a road trip days before their graduation to finally settle whatever feelings they have between them. Expect booze, music, bad decisions, partying, and a whole heaping of rom-com cheesiness.
Starring fresh-faced kids who would eventually become showbiz icons, Nagbibinata presents the challenges and pressures felt by a barkada of boys in all their reckless, naive glory. Exploring everything from family drama to budding romances, this film is a major throwback, and yet all the issues of adolescence hold up to this day.
MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006)
Sofia Coppola’s modern reimagining of the life of ill-fated French Queen Marie Antoinette follows her betrothal, engagement, and life as a young queen breathes new life into the young monarch’s story. A fun, modern, and stylized period piece that subverts the expectations of a movie revolving around the time period, this film, while set against an extravagant backdrop, is truly all about the trials and tribulations of being a young woman.
SENIOR YEAR (2010)
Grades, identity, relationships, homework, family, expectations, future plans…Senior Year ticks all the boxes of high school as it explores the lives of ten students on their last year before their lives change forever. Based on real experiences by the cast of students, the film is a snapshot of one of the most significant eras of a person’s life.