Nothing like a good #tbt to help you realize how far you’ve come! In honor of this month’s “Growing Up” theme, every Thursday we'll share some of our favorite coming of age content. This week we've pulled some films.
Email us your favorite coming of age content to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may feature it later this month in our Monthly Audience Picks.
Queen is about a young, Indian woman’s journey to self-discovery after her fiancé ditches her days before their wedding. She decides to go on her honeymoon since she already has the tickets and honestly what else would you do after having your heart ripped into a million pieces! It’s badass and funny and super goddamn relatable.
Growing up, a lot of the Indian cinema I watched was very male-centric, and when there was a female lead she was highly sexualized, ready to be married off, or a scorned woman--classic Hollywood/Bollywood tropes. Most of my role models in Bollywood films ended up being the male characters, and while the actresses themselves were very inspiring to read about in real life, it wasn’t until I saw Queen that I was really moved by the storyline of the female character.
This film is not just about a girl striking out on her own and discovering her own life without being tied to a man, but also about culture shock and identity when traveling to a foreign country. What I love about this film is that it doesn’t give her a break (ex. she almost gets mugged) and takes some pretty unexpected turns (ex. Not ending up with her hunky hostel roomie--but instead **SPOILIES** the hot Italian chef she meets).
Although I am Indian American and can’t fully relate to Queen, I see a lot of it mirrored in the lives of my parents and their immigrant friends who find western culture--especially a hostel room shared by two genders to be very offensive. It was a helpful insight into what my parents must have felt coming to America and relatable for myself since I've had some experience traveling to different countries and discovering how different, but also how similar we all are.
Frances Ha (2012)
My second choice is, of course, Frances Ha. I know the diversity in this film is severely lacking, but the way it portrays trying to be an artist is really incredible and once again relatable. (I guess I just love stories where the character is basically me!! Textbook narcissism...) The focus on dialogue is so important in this film and takes us straight into the mind of Frances. The way she idolizes life, the way she stubbornly sticks to her childish notions of love and success is so accurate to what a lot of my friends and myself have experienced as people trying to work in the artistic realm. Granted it is a little bit of a privileged story, but it does show us what challenges the modern artist faces. The fact that she is trying to do this on her own and sometimes needs help from others (and to lower her expectations) are important themes--that don’t make her any less of a strong central character.
I think the other thing I love about this movie is the fact that it is all about female friendships and portrays a different type of love story between Frances and her friend Jennifer. Frances describes how to her love is this unspoken feeling you get with someone, the words that don't need to be said--when you are in a crowd and you lock eyes across the room and share an unspoken moment. At first she's talking about romantic love, but by the end of the film she shares this moment with her best friend, and we see what truly is the most valuable thing to Frances. While in the previous scene we’re all rooting for Frances to get together with her best guy friend, it's the choice to end on the moment between Frances and Jennifer, emphasizing friendship between them, that sets this movie apart.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
My mom was never one to waste her valuable evening TV time on stuff geared specifically toward the kiddos (I remember her turning off Paulie the parrot movie halfway through), so most of my early movie watching memories are of falling asleep to something in black and white. Black & White starring Fred and Ginger, Black & White starring Humphrey Bogart, Black & White starring Bette Davis-- we had them all in glorious black and white!
Always a little insecure about my inability to remain as conscious and upright as my older sister during these family screenings, Shadow of a Doubt holds a special place in my heart as the first black and white film I remember staying awake for the entire way through as a kid. It signifies a moment when I felt grown-up as a child, and fostered a genuine appreciation for Alfred Hitchcock that I, until that point at 9 years old, had probably been lying about. Step aside ignoramuses! I now knew what suspense truly was-- I had lived through all 108 minutes of it!
Shadow of a Doubt follows Charlie (Teresa Wright, as a rare non-blonde Hitchcock leading lady), a young woman bored of her existence in her idyllic small town with her ordinary family. When her beloved Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten), after whom she’s named, comes to town she slowly pieces together that he may not be the good, honest man she thinks he is. The tension builds as Young Charlie’s blind admiration and idealization of her uncle slowly rots until she’s forced to make a decision that could destroy her family.
At its core Shadow of a Doubt is about the peeling back of innocence and naïveté, which sort of makes it a coming-of-age film (my personal journey with it excluded). Throw in a brush with death on top of the destruction of a childhood hero, and the weight of a dark secret, and Young Charlie comes out of the film a different woman, now aware that darkness and evil lurk beneath the surface everywhere. Although Charlie's are extreme circumstances, I think everyone can relate to the experience of lost innocence that accompanies the revelation that bad things happen to good people, and seemingly good people do bad things.
My opinions from childhood hold up, the movie remains one of my favorites, and I’ll have you know I can still stay awake for it too. As a 23 year old, I can also now appreciate the that this is a Hitchcock movie where the lead woman isn’t just a love interest, that Charlie’s precocious younger sister is hilarious, and the fact that Charlie as a teen in the 1940s expresses an angst that evidently transcends time.