Childhood isn’t really as breezy a phase as it is generally perceived to be. This weekend, we bring a list of some of the best coming-of-age films from various languages.
Mud is reminiscent of Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. This 2012 American film, written and directed by Jeff Nichols, is about two boys growing up along Arkansas river. The boys – Ellis and Neckbone – come across a fugitive named Mud living in an abandoned boat on an isolated island. The boys develop a rare rapport with the man, who tells them that he is waiting for his girlfriend to arrive. Ellis is going through a tough phase in life – his parents are heading towards a divorce and his mother is planning to relocate to a town. Mud’s story instills optimism in Ellis, who is on the verge of losing faith in love and life. The boys earnestly try to help Mud, often putting themselves in trouble. The film portrays the boys’ transition from childhood to teenage – their misadventures, mental turbulence and infatuations.
This 2011 French film deals with a very sensitive issue – sexuality. The story is centered on a 10-year-old tomboy, Laura. Her family has moved to a new locality, where she strikes up a friendship with a girl, who mistakes her for a boy, thanks to her close-cropped hair and clothes. She plays with the boys in the locality, who also take her for a boy. The film ends on a very vague note hinting at romance blooming between Laura and the girl, who pardons Laura for pretending to be a boy.
The Kid with A Bike
This is a 2011 French film directed by Belgian brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The film narrates a 12-year-old boy’s quest for parental love after the only member of his family – his dad – abandons him. Cyril is growing up in a foster home, from where he tries to run away. He meets a compassionate woman who tries to help him find his dad. He refuses to believe the caretakers who tell him that his dad has abandoned him. The film portrays the boy’s insecurity and the agony of being an orphan. The Kid With A Bike, like other films by Dardenne brothers, is poignant and honest.
This 1969 British film, directed by Ken Loach, narrates the story of a boy Billy, who is leading a troubled childhood. He’s bullied by elder boys and his half-brother. He’s aimless and pays hardly any attention to studies. He steals milk from a local store. His mother describes him as a ‘hopeless case’. What changes the course of his life is a falcon – Kes, whom he begins to train. The film portrays Billy’s struggles to overcome his shortcomings, the class segregation in the society and the boy’s efforts to break to freedom. Kes is often described as the best British film of all time.
This 2012 Swiss drama film, directed by Ursula Meier, narrates a moving story of a 12-year-old boy Simon – his struggles of having to run the household single-handed and his longing for love. He lives with his sister Louis, who is later revealed to be his mother. Louis introduces Simon to her boyfriends as her kid brother. She despises him and regards him as the cause of all her problems. She is unemployed and Simon has to steal equipment from a ski resort. Louise and Simon live in shame, fear and insecurity. Kacey Mottet, who appeared in Meier’s previous film Home, has delivered a powerful performance as Simon.