Great films are always great regardless of topic. The films I have chosen are about teenagers. I focus on recent- post 2000- films and therefore don’t include All Time Classics like Great Expectations (UK 1946). This is definitely worth a re- visit; as is Kes(UK 1969) the story of a boy seeking solace from ceaseless school and home based bullying via the nurturing of a kestrel. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet(UK/Ital 1968) shows intensity, passion and decisiveness, these films try to do the same. This film is probably the only ‘must see’ in the entire list.
My selection ranges from uplifting to ‘gritty reality’. Just one comes from the 3rd world (is Brazil a 3rd world country?) but this reflects what I have seen, not that there aren’t brilliant films out there. (I’d certainly welcome film references if you have them!) Fuller reviews are of course available on- line but this (very) select list is no more than an opening gambit based on my film diary. These are all excellent films in their own way.
Billy Elliot(UK 2000) Set during the great miners strike in northern Britain in th e1980’s, this strike was also a quasi- civil war. The film challenges all the macho stereotypes of UK miners and the perceived effeminacy of ballet dancing. Inspirational.
City of God (Brazil 2002) A film about the crime ridden favelasof Rio de Janeiro where crime is learned by social osmosis. This is a violent film showing the catastrophic circumstances that teenagers grow up with in the urban slums of Rio. It also has tremendous charm and a dynamism missing from UK teenagers.
Fish Tank (UK 2009) Focussed on a dysfunctional teenage girl, a loner and living with a single mother in social housing. Desperate for love but only seeing casual sex her search is hampered by her mother and social workers. All of her actions have a gruesome inner logic leaving her with a vulnerablity to exploitation.
Submarine UK 2010) Set in Wales this is a tragi- comedy as well as a coming-of-age film. Utterly charming it is the antidote of City of God teenage love and anxiety are important in this film. The centrality of family life, for teenagers, is wonderfully illustrated in a series of ever more desperate actions.
Norwegian Wood (Japan 2011) As this is Japanese film from a book by Haruku Murukami you expect- and receive- social intensity, stunning scenery, teenage suicide and wonderful writing. There is huge despair, love, and hope all mixed together: utterly compelling (The title come from the Beatles song) Japanese suicide rates are roughly triple those of the UK by the way.