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Article – Top 5 Unconventional Coming Of Age Films


Posted May 25, 2016 by

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Top 5 Unconventional Coming Of Age Films

I should start out by stating that this is probably one of the most biased posts I have ever written. When looking back on it, I can see that this may as well just be called “a list of Sarah’s favourite films”… but oh well, they’re some of my favourites for good reasons.

Nowhere – Gregg Araki


One of my most favourite films of all time, because it’s super crazy. A teen film, mixed with Drama, Comedy and even Sci-Fi – Nowhere is the ultimate Indie in alternative formatting. It’s a Gregg Araki flick, so… it’s gonna be totally f*cked up, no two ways about it. Also it’s full of Queer themes, as protagonist Dark Smith (the wonderful James Duval) wonders through his normal day becoming sexually confused between his adventurous girlfriend, and the new weird pale boy in town.

Nowhere reflects a day in the life of aesthetically pleasing Los Angeles kids roaming from café to rave in a wave of drug fuelled ambition for the ultimate time. But ultimately there’s an alien lizard on the loose… I did warn of strange goings-on. Overall, you’re in for not a normal teen film, oh yeah it’s got experimentation with drugs and the norms, but it’s pretty hard-core to say the least. With a whirlwind of sex, suicide, rape and murder, Nowhere is Araki’s finest ode to live fast, die young, and yet also is kind of sweet in its own weird way. Although there are some unsettling aspects, you may need to push through them in order to feel content with what Araki is trying to grasp at.

I won’t lie to you, it is unnerving, but then again I suppose it is considered ‘Art’, and who’s going to begin to argue with that. It is a good film, trust me, with a 90s couture and pleasing cameos from other actors in the Indie cinema world – i.e. Rose McGowan, Traci Lords, you shall enjoy this strange Comedy, even if it very tongue in cheek.

4.5/5 Stars.

Jawbreaker – Darren Stein

jawbreaker poster

Again another late 90s teen Comedy/Drama, but this time without the Sci-fi and more than unusual exploits. Stein’s Jawbreaker leads with yet again a young Rose McGowan, as the head of high school’s most popular band of thin perfect girls. But when the main three decide to prank their fourth most perfect friend on her birthday… they end up killing her, yikes. Death by choking on a Jawbreaker! So with manslaughter on the slates, they cover up her death with a horrible story concerning a rapist. McGowan’s character Courtney being jealous of a dead girl… who she accidentally killed, makes up lies in attempt to tarnish her dead friend’s good reputation. It’s literally quite a long storyline to get into, especially with the introduction of one of the four’s admirers suddenly getting a makeover and becoming one of them.

Needless to say, it wasn’t received too well at box office, but you know how that tends to go by now… it ultimately gained a cult following. And I know it stinks of 1988’s Heathers, but that’s because it was inspired by it. So the 90s Heathers being Jawbreaker turned into a 00s reinterpretation, with Mean Girls… they’re all quite similar after a while. I fyou like again more 90s aesthetic and a tone of the classic three very mean girls bringing a lamb to the slaughter, then definitely watch this. There’s also an oddly timed cameo from Marilyn Manson… well I suppose him and Rose were dating at the time. Very 1990s indeed.

3.5/5 Stars.

Palindromes – Todd Solondz


Oh where do I begin with Palindromes, and Todd Solondz to that matter? To an audience who aren’t familiar with Solondz’s work, I would advise not to start on this film in particular, as it’s kind of a head rush. When I first watched it, I found it hard to keep track, and needless to say that it took several watches, and a read of the DVD feature from Solondz to understand his idea he puts forward. Basically Palindromes’ main character consists of being played by several different actresses in each chapter. I know right… take your time with watching this one.

Aviva is thirteen, awkward and sensitive and also looking to get pregnant and have a baby of her own. It is a sequel to Solondz’s earlier film Welcome to the Dollhouse, also featured on this list, following that protagonist’s cousin – Aviva. Palindromes and its varied actresses playing Aviva consist of females ranging in ages and race. Once managing to get pregnant by a family friend’s son, Aviva perfect and caring mother and father become enraged and Aviva ends up losing her baby. So of course she runs away, henceforth becoming engaged in a tangle of characters mostly stranger than herself. It’s an odd film, I won’t lie. But at that it is enjoyable, as well as clever. To state again, this is one of my most favourite films, as Solondz is an underrated filmmaker, and to be fair this isn’t even one of his most unsettling of films. If you want a film more f*cked up than Nowhere and Palindromes put together, look for Solondz’s Happiness, even I can’t stomach it these days.

4/5 Stars.

Dazed & Confused – Richard Linklater

dazed and confused poster

Again one of my most favourite films of all time, and this one isn’t hat messed up as the others on this list. Dazed & Confused portrays a film set in one night, the first night of summer vacation and the last day of school 1976. Linklater’s 1993 Drama/Comedy uses Texas teenagers of the time dabbling in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. A somewhat stoner film, it hits hard of the drugs side of it, but has an underlining message of confusion of what to do with life after high school.

Following two groups of teens, one crowd finishing high school, and the other getting ready to start it. In the rush of the annual hazing of these students, the older bunch take advantage of going around town paddling their younger peers. Dazed & Confused shows the highs and lows of one final big party before the summer begins, and being ruined by summer school and working adult jobs. Overall the biggest and best aspect of this film is its acting talent and sound track. Ah the soundtrack is perfection for 70s hits. Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams and Adam Goldberg are just some of the biggest stars to feature within this amazing film.

But yet the best aspect of this film is absolutely is Matthew McConaughey’s character of Wooderson. You’ll see why if you watch it.

5/5 Stars.

Welcome to the Dollhouse – Todd Solondz

Wel;come to the Dollhouse

Yet again, one for my top ten favourite films of all time. I think it may just be the aesthetic of Solondz which I love so much. Heather Matarazzo is introduced here as the dorky and sometimes unlikable, but always cringe-worthy Dawn Wiener. Matarazzo being most recognisable as best friend Lilly of Princess Mia from the Princesses Diaries.

Solondz’s protagonist is daily bullied by both popular and unpopular kids at school, her older nerdy brother, as well as pitied by her own mother and father. Dawn younger sister Missy is the apple of her parents’ eye, and both parents are proud of her smart older brother who is starting a band. A band in which enlists high school delinquent Steve Rodgers as their singer, who Dawn instantly falls in love with. Dawn finds life hard when she has only one friend, who even she treats badly. Welcome to the Dollhouse follows awn as she becomes tangled in the life of her peer and bully Brandon, where he threatens to rape her, then falls for her, then hates her gain… poor Dawn. It’s another f*cked up film, but seems less so due to the acting talent of Matarazzo portraying the perfect tween who’s attempts to be cooler than she actually is backfire over and over again.

4/5 Stars.

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Sarah Rodgers
Welcome To The Dollhouse – Blog
Work Experience Contributor

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