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Five essential female-centric coming-of-age movies

Caroline Giovanie

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, August 9, 2020  /  04:10 pm
Five essential female-centric coming-of-age movies

In her directorial debut, Greta Gerwig made a cinematic miracle in 'Lady Bird'. (A24/-)

Coming-of-age movies can be comforting because of their pertinence in making sense of your own childhood and how it affected your perception of the world around you.

Although these movies may seem less crucial for adults, young people watching them could feel less alone by having their experiences represented in the media.

Here are the movies that highlight different experiences in growing up:

Lady Bird

Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan, the 2017 film covers issues of self identity, friendship and familial relationships.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a high school senior living in California who wants to go to college in New York. A musical theater enthusiast, she finds herself out of place at home with a mother she constantly argues with and at school where her teachers don’t believe her goals.

The movie follows her final year as she navigates friendship dynamics, a boyfriend who disrespected her and a volatile relationship with her parents.

The Hate U Give

Not the orthodox coming-of-age story, this movie was adapted from a novel by Angie Thomas and centers around black teenager Starr Carter who attends a predominantly white private high school, witnessing her childhood best friend Khalil murdered by the police.

The movie follows her journey in fighting for Khalil’s justice and eventually into activism against police brutality.

An important piece on police violence against black people, The Hate U Give highlights the struggles of young people of color growing up in a racist society.

Little Women

Another Greta Gerwig and Soairse Ronan combination, this one was adapted from the Louis May Alcott classic. 

Little Women follows four sisters after the United States' Civil War and how their days revolved around finding men to marry and surviving with their father gone to war and as a working-class family.

The movie highlights issues like class and gender norms, with second-eldest sister Jo March breaking the latter as she refuses to marry a man.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Adapted from the 2014 Jenny Han novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before features Korean-American high schooler Lara Jean who had love letters she wrote to all her crushes unintentionally sent to all of them.

Although the movie is more focused on romance than self-discovery, representation of Asians in the media is critical for young people to see.


Directed by Olivia Wilde and featuring Lady Bird’s Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart focuses on the friendship between Amy and Molly who is graduating high school.

Having been overachievers their entire time in school, they become determined to make the most of the rest of their time as teenagers and start an adventure.

Noteworthy for its theme of friendship and living in the moment, Booksmart makes the cut for important movies for young women to watch. (wng)


The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.

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