Coming of age films are a timeless genre that engages audiences of all ages. Presenting a poignant and heartfelt portrayal of growing up, these films capture the universal experience of navigating the complexities of adolescence. When it comes to coming of age movies from France, cinema-goers are spoilt for choice. From classics like Francois Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows” to the more recent indie hit “Girlhood,” French cinema has a rich collection of poignant and thought-provoking movies that explore this captivating genre.
One such film that has captivated audiences is “Tomboy.” Directed by Céline Sciamma, the film tells the story of a 10-year-old girl named Laure who, after moving into a new neighborhood, presents herself as a boy to her new friends. The film explores themes of gender identity, peer-pressure, and societal expectations. Sciamma’s storytelling feels authentic, capturing the innocence and naivety of young children superbly. It is a sensitive and thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of growing up.
Another notable French coming of age film is “Amélie Poulain.” Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film revolves around the titular character, Amélie, a quirky young girl living in Paris. The film brings a breath of fresh air to the genre, with its whimsical and delightful plot. Amélie is a girl who is determined to make other people happy and in doing so, discovers her own purpose. The film is a delightful mix of quirky humor, vivid colors, and charming music that makes it visually stunning. It beautifully presents a refreshing twist on the usual coming of age film.
The world of coming of age film also explores romance and heartache in its narrative. One such film, “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, tells the story of Adèle, a high school girl who falls in love with an older and more experienced woman named Emma. The film explores the complexities of a first love, the challenges in relationships, and the expectation from parents, and society-at-large. It is strikingly authentic, with Kechiche’s camera lingering on small details of everyday life, creating long sequences that evoke a sense of immersion in the character’s world. It’s raw and sensual, and undeniably compelling with its emotional tale.
In contrast to Blue Is the Warmest Color, “The Class,” directed by Laurent Cantet, presents a more pragmatic and realistic portrayal of adolescence in French society. The film is based on the autobiographical novel “Entre les Murs” by Francois Begaudeau, who also stars in the film. It tells the story of a teacher navigating his way through his first year teaching in a multicultural school in Paris. The film captures the tension and conflict that arises in a classroom where students from diverse backgrounds gather. It raises issues of race, class, and the cultural divide in France. The film expertly dissects the anxieties, frustrations, and expectancies that make adolescence such a turbulent and tumultuous period. It is a sobering and thought-provoking exploration of a complex reality.
In conclusion, French cinema has produced various thoughtful and outstanding coming of age movies. Films like “Tomboy,” “Amélie Poulain,” “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” and “The Class,” deliver powerful explorations of the challenges and complexities of growing up. These films employ various techniques in storytelling and aid in conveying the emotions and themes that are relevant to this genre. They present perspectives that are diverse and imbue the films with a sense of originality all whilst still capturing poignant and often universal experiences. Regardless of your age, there is value to be found in investing time to engage with films exploring the Coming of Age genre. French Cinema’s offerings provide that in spades.