Coming of Age

[8.5] Paul Verhoeven (Soldier of Orange, RoboCop) brings his devil-may-care attitude toward sex and morality to this slice-of-life story about three young Dutch boys who dream of escaping their restrained provincial lives by winning motor cross competitions. One of the boys, Rien (Hans van Tongeren), has a real chance of unseating the current champion (Rutger Hauer), while Eef (Toon Agterberg) struggles with his sexual identity in dark ways, and …

[6.0] Carey Mulligan gives an outstanding performance in this adaptation of Lynn Barber’s memoir. Mulligan plays a sixteen-year-old in 1960s London, pushed by her father to study hard so she can get into Oxford. When she falls in love with a charming man nearly twice her age, she decides to let her education slide. But Prince Charming isn’t all he’s cracked up to be and …

[8.5] Joel Edgerton (The Gift) brings Garrard Conley’s true story of dangerous, misguided gay conversion therapy to the big screen with the help of Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) plays Conley in the film, a young teen who is pressured to confess his homosexuality to his baptist preacher father (Crowe) and loving mother (Kidman). With …

[7.5] A young German man (an award-worthy David Kross) has an affair with an older woman (Kate Winslet), only to discover many years after the affair ends that she was a guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp. After she is found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison, the man (later played by Ralph Fiennes) still can’t get her out of his mind. …

[8.5] Nick Robinson (Jurassic World, Kings of Summer) stars as a closeted high school student who carries on an anonymous email relationship with another closeted student, all while trying to gather the courage to ‘come out’ to his family and friends. There have been many ‘coming out’ stories in independent cinema, but they’re usually sad, dreary affairs. Love, Simon, directed by Greg Berlanti (TV’s Everwood and The …

[9.5] In picturesque Italy, 1983, a seventeen-year-old boy falls in love with an older man who is working as his father’s research assistant. That’s it. That’s all Call Me By Your Name is about. And it’s marvelous. So many other coming-of-age, coming out, and gay-centered love stories focus on outside forces exerting pressure on the characters. But James Ivory’s (Maurice, The Remains of the Day) …

[6.5] Saoirse Ronan stars as the title character, an anxiety-ridden, pretentious, troubled — well, normal, I guess — teenager who does lots of teenagery things, like having sex for the first time and trying to get into college. Watching Lady Bird is like being a fly on the wall inside the character’s lower-middle-class home. The central conflict is between Lady Bird and her mother, played compellingly …

[8.0] François Truffaut made his feature directorial debut with this semi-autobiographical tale of a disenfranchised twelve-year-old Parisian boy who takes his first steps into a life of petty crime. Truffaut went into The 400 Blows with an admirable mission statement — to capture the very real malaise of pre-pubescence. Truffaut’s doppelganger is Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), whose escalating infractions with his school and parents threaten to …

[7.5] Drew Barrymore stars as a teen in the ’60s whose dreams of going to college and getting published are squashed by unexpected motherhood. Riding in Cars with Boys is a comedy/drama based on a true story that spans a few decades, seeing Barrymore’s character through a reluctant marriage, cold and everlasting disappointment from her father, and struggles with her drug-addicted husband. The big question is …

[6.0] Natasha Lyonne (American Pie, But I’m a Cheerleader) leads an esteemed ensemble cast in writer/director Tamara Jenkins’ story of a 1970s teenager coming of age on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. The family is struggling to make ends meet, always moving out of apartments before the rent is due. Alan Arkin plays the father, a divorcee with a gambling problem. David Krumholtz plays Lyonne’s …

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