Coming of Age

[3.0] Chris O’Donnell and Drew Barrymore star in this teenaged drama/romance about high school students who hit the road after Barrymore’s parents put her in a psychiatric ward for attempting suicide. The young lovers think the open road and fresh air will cure whatever ails Barrymore, but it turns out that her mental illness is real — and potentially dangerous. I’m glad a movie like …

[7.0] Writer/director Alice Wu tells us in the beginning of The Half of It that none of the characters will get what they want, and she’s not lying. But that won’t stop you from rooting for all three characters in this love triangle. Leah Lewis plays Ellie, a Chinese-American who writes love letters for a jock named Paul (Daniel Diemer) to help him woo Aster …

[7.0] Two high school relay racers (Gijs Blom and Ko Zandvliet) develop a same-sex attraction, but one of the boys is afraid to make their relationship public. This Dutch drama/romance features a likable, competent cast and is shot in several beautiful locations around the Netherlands. As a ‘coming out’ story, it doesn’t break the mold in the slightest, but director Mischa Kamp does a fine …

[7.5] A six-year-old girl lives on a small island called “The Bathtub” in Louisiana, where she lives in squalor with her dying, tough-love father until flooding drives them into their makeshift boat to find food and stable shelter. They band together with other survivors and try to avoid government agencies who want them to vacate “The Bathtub” and submit to medical treatment at shelters on …

[7.5] Two teenaged boys, friends since early childhood, experience a rift after a night of drunken sexual experimentation. One boy questions his sexuality while the other leans into homophobic name-calling and behavior to distance himself from his former friend. Meeting the dilemma honestly helps one boy to move forward, while fear holds the other one back. Giant Little Ones features some incredible performances from young …

[6.0] Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, The Karate Kid) stars as a high school senior who resigns herself to babysitting when her date cancels at the last minute. But when her friend runs away from home and makes a panicked call from the bus terminal in downtown Chicago, Shue decides she has to rescue her — even if it means dragging a 9 year-old girl …

[7.5] Writer/director John Duigan (The Year My Voice Broke, Lawn Dogs) takes an earnest and engaging stab at the ‘boy meets girl and falls in love’ narrative with Flirting. Noah Taylor stars as an ostracized Australian boarding school student in the 1950s who becomes infatuated with a new Ugandan student (Thandie Newton) from a nearby girls’ school. As the two avoid their headmasters for clandestine …

[6.0] Winona Ryder and Cher give us their take on the classic mother/daughter divide in this adaptation of a novel by Patty Dann, directed by Richard Benjamin (The Money Pit, Little Nikita). Ryder’s character is of high school age and tired of being moved from town to town by her colorful but slightly slutty single mom (Cher). Things become especially trying when the family (including …

[8.0] If someone is going to pick up Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved literary classic, dust it off, and serve up a retelling, let it be the Oscar-nominated writer/director of Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig is respectably faithful to the material, but bold in her decision to dice the story up and deliver it in non-linear fashion. In Gerwig’s adaptation, we experience the aftermath of the March …

[6.0] A young boy in Hitler’s youth army (Roman Griffin Davis) finds himself in a moral dilemma after discovering a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in a secret space behind his bedroom wall. This film written for the screen and directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) has an off-beat, surreal sense of humor that wears thin over time. It’s …

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