The Effects of Coming-Of-Age Movies on Teens

Is life always this hard, or just when you’re a kid?…….Always this hard”

Have you ever watched that one movie that just left you thinking the whole night about what the heck you just watched? That one movie that you kept talking about with your friends and family because you couldn’t get over how good the movie was? Well, you are not the only one. Things like movies and films tend to have an impact and even leave a mark in our lives. But as a teenager growing up in New York City, I have been personally affected and by this type of film; specifically, teen drama coming-of-age movies. I have found myself traveling through different periods, experiencing different cultures, and learning new things all just by watching movies. 

Coming-of-age movies are a very complex topic. The reason why this topic should be talked about right now is because of the quarantine and isolation young people of New York City are having to face due to the Covid-19 virus. These periods caused a lot of realization, and deep reflection on us teens and coming-of-age films connect to some of the emotions we might have felt. Films like Léon: The Professional, The Edge Of 17, Lolita, and more are the type of films I’m going to be referring to. These movies are the type of films that have had an impact on youth, to the point they gained widespread and cultural recognition from our generation. These movies inspired fashion trends, aesthetics in the background, and even memes! Articles like this haven’t been made before because sometimes people don’t like to talk about these types of movies and the awkward but real topics these films focus on. Also, most people don’t realize how important these films are and how relevant to our lives they are.

Léon: The Professional is a movie that came out in 1994 about two people in very different age ranges who live in the same building. Matilda is a pre-teen girl who lives with a very abusive family who mistreats her. She’s trying to find herself by living beyond her years and living vicariously through her neighbors, especially Leon. Leon is an undercover hitman and one of the best there is. Due to unexpected circumstances, the two of them cross paths, forming a unique relationship, which today would be seen as strange. This movie portrayed to us an odd, funny, father-daughter-like, loving relationship, and it also showed the audience exactly how a teen girl feels when growing up and going through phases and changes in her life. Matilda is a badass in the movie, something that in that time of the late 1990s, wasn’t associated with teenagers, much less a teen girl, and is more often reflected in adults. Her fashion style in the movie is just straight up iconic and a masterpiece that to this day can be recognized and worn by many. One example is Matilda’s choker, which she never took off.

Matilda’s choker was not only a fashion staple, but it also had a lot of symbolic power in itself. The choker represents rebellion and something that is keeping Matilda’s emotions together. With her choker, Matilda is more confident and secure with her talisman. Without the choker, we see Matilda behave more like a kid. She seems vulnerable and almost “naked” to the audiences because in those times she can’t control herself and what she might be feeling, leading to disasters later on. With that choker, she draws attention while keeping us at a distance. Using fashion items as a form of self-identification is something many young people can relate to. “Teenagers use clothes, accessories, and even makeup and other arts as a form of self-expression and adolescence expression because it is one of the ways we feel seen or heard at times,” @livinginthe2000s says, an Instagram account that focuses on TV shows and movies of different eras. The person running the account explains how this movie, in particular, was so different than most coming-of-age movies because it tries to show a different perspective of what it’s like being a young girl growing up and teaches aspects of how hard life can be and the pressures of “growing up.” Throughout the movie, Matilda felt this need to be treated like and acted like an adult, trying to be independent and take care of herself when in reality, she was just a kid who needed the attention of an adult. 

Movies and films are like an encyclopedia of life. They are often based on true stories, unseen scenarios, facts, or things that can take place in the world. Coming-of-age and drama films are where one often sees different aspects of life from a teen’s perspective. This is because, as a teenager, you are figuring out life and who you are, which can happen in so many various ways and the reason why many people refer to their teenage years as their best years of life. Léon: The Professional was a movie trying to highlight coming-of-age, femininity, rebellion, maturity, and love, which are all relevant themes that can still be seen and learned from today.

trailer from Léon: The
Professional

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