Becoming An Adult: 6 Movies On Discovering Your Destiny

From Never Rarely Sometimes Always to Boy Erased, growing up is never easy

In Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman’s powerful drama about the choices we make to take control of our lives, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) travel from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to seek out necessary medical care. With little money and even less knowledge of the city or the tangled labyrinth of rules regulating health care, the two young women learn both to trust each other and then, even more importantly, themselves. In the process, both are confronted with tough challenges, confrontations that define what it means to be an adult. Hittman’s film provides, according to IndieWire, “a singular look at what it means to be a teenage girl today, and with all the joy and pain that comes with it.”

With Never Rarely Sometimes Always set to open in select theaters on March 13, we look back at other powerful films that chart the incredible journeys young people take in becoming an adult.


The official trailer for Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Pariah | Being your own woman

In making her debut feature PariahDee Rees reinvigorated the coming-of-age story by portraying “images on screen that we hadn’t seen before, and to bring to light the experiences of gay youth of color because those stories hadn't been fully told.” Alike (Adepero Oduye), a young African American teen growing up in Brooklyn, is trying to untangle her own identity from all the expectations that her friends, family, and teachers have for her. Her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker) wants her to be more out as a lesbian. Her mother (Kim Wayans) wants her to be a good Christian girl. Alike simply wants to find a way to be true to her multiple identities (lesbian, poet, African American, daughter) without losing herself. It’s no small task. As The Washington Post notes, Pariah is “a touching movie about how painful, and unavoidable, growing up can be.”

Get Pariah now on iTunes or at Amazon.

The official trailer for Pariah

Raw | Savoring an appetite for life

In Julia Ducournau’s cutting-edge horror film RawGarance Marillier plays Justine, a young vegetarian student at a veterinary school who develops a very unnatural taste for flesh—of all sorts. For Ducournau, the film’s grisly plot provides both a meaty allegory about sexual awakening and invitation to the audience. “You have to accept some parts of us that are hard to watch,” explains the director. “You need that to grow up, as a human and as a society.” For film critic Amy Nicholson, Justine’s transformation is equally about finding your identity as an adult, “about discovering your own appetites, your kinks, the secret joys that make you feel full.” 

Get Raw now on iTunes  or at Amazon.

The official trailer for Raw

Hanna | Making a connection

In Joe Wright’s fairy-tale thriller HannaSaoirse Ronan plays the title character, a young woman being raised in the arctic wilds by her ex-CIA operative father (Eric Bana) to become a world-class assassin. When she finally enters the real world to track down a corrupt intelligence director (Cate Blanchett), Hanna has fists of fury, but no real sense of people and relationships. For some film critics, Hanna really grows up when she learns to care, not just kill. “Here lies the real potential for female strength,” suggests author Jennifer Stuller, “because perhaps empowerment will come not from Hanna’s impressive physical ability, training, or lethal skill, but from her ability to adjust—to grow.”

Get Hanna now on iTunes or at Amazon.

The official trailer for Hanna

Boy Erased | Finding faith in yourself

Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, adapted from Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name, dramatizes the plight of Jared (Lucas Hedges), a young man whose same-sex desires compel his evangelical parents—played by Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman—to pressure him into a conversion therapy program. Torn between being the son he believes his parents want and the man he feels himself becoming, Jared is trapped in an institution that wants him to deny both his future and his past. “In the end, though, Jared must chart his own future," explains NPR. "It's not incidental that what jolts him into action is the [conversion therapy's] attempt to turn him against his own family.” 

Get Boy Erased now on iTunes or at Amazon.

The official trailer for Boy Erased

Sin Nombre | Following your destiny

Cary Fukunaga’s first feature Sin Nombre chronicles the way two young people—one, a gang member name Willy (Edgar Flores) hoping to flee his past; the other, a young Honduran woman named Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) hoping to find a new future—connect on a train heading north through Mexico. The young Willy, pushed as a boy to commit unspeakable crimes to prove his gang value, finds a new sense of himself saving Sayra’s life, an act that ironically marks him for death. Fukunaga and his actors infuse these characters with such a sense of humanity that their journey to grow up becomes all the more moving. “Flores gives Willy a poignant strength, a quiet dignity, and a knowing resignation that stays with you long after the movie has ended,” notes The Los Angeles Times. “Gaitan’s Sayra is heartbreaking in her hope.”

Get Sin Nombre now on iTunes or at Amazon

The official trailer for Sin Nombre

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