We have often featured Coming-of-Age films dealing with gender identification here on theskykid.com site. The film of reference of this subgenre of the Coming-of-Age cinema is My Life in Pink (Ma Vie en Rose), but since its release, a couple of full-length films have been released: Rebekah Fortune‘s 2017 intense Coming-of-Age family drama, Just Charlie, and Anne Fontaine‘s 2017 drama Reinventing Marvin. Also, there have been various short films such Fragile and Barbie Boy. These are all prime examples of excellent cinematic portrayals of a challenging period in one’s self-identification.
Sarah Jane Drummey‘s short film 134, released in 2019, does not bring many new ideas to the sub-genre, as most of the characters are clichéd – from the disappointed, rude father figure, through the compassionate mother and a boy whose only desire is to be who his heart tells him to be. Yet aside from some odd choices of songs in the score, the film is shot intriguingly – with temporal leaps and flashbacks that greatly enhance the story’s impact.
Bill Cornally‘s performance is notably good in the role of Jack, a young dancer who identifies as a girl, as are the performances of Freddy Cornally and Lewis Kraiem, who portray Jack in different stages of his life.
Unfortunately, the ending is clichéd as well and that’s probably the reason why I would hesitate to extend my wholehearted recommendation of the film. Focusing on gender identification in movies does not have the aura of taboo it once had and, because of that, I expected a bit more of an effort on the part of the screenwriters.
An Irish couple struggle to cope with their child's gender identity.
No one makes as poignant and as powerful a movie about adolescent love better than the French directors. Jean Delannoy`s 1964 classic This Special Friendship (Les amitiés particulières) is a prime example supporting that argument.
This is a review of a similarly themed film: Christophe Malavoy`s TheFire That Burns (original title: La ville dont le prince est un enfant).
Adapted from the 1969 three-act play (later to become a novel) The Boys, by the French author Henry de Montherlant, the film relates the story of the passionate romantic relationship between two young pupils of a Catholic boarding school in France and the jealousy of a teacher (the Abbé de Pradts).
The narrative of the film is so close to that of This Special Friendship that it must be noted that the author of the play found inspiration in his own life as a student in a Catholic boarding school. That, and his friendship with Roger Peyrefitte (the author of This Special Friendship), could explain why the two novels’ stories (and their screen adaptations) share so many common traits.
Sixteen-year-old Sevrais (Naël Marandin) and 11-year-old Souplier (Clément van den Bergh) share a special friendship. They meet in secret and exchange small tokens of friendship, little gifts and romantic words in letters — always marked with “to be burned“ – aware that, while their relationship is not uncommon, it’s frowned upon and forbidden by the strict school authorities. To make matters worse, one of the teachers, the Abbe de Pradts, sees the young Souplier as his protégé (and fixation) and doesn’t want his own influence on the affectionate youth to be being interfered with.
When Abbe de Pradts discovers the relationship between his pupils, his jealousy is awakened, and he starts plotting a cruel plan to stop it.
Initially screened on French TV back in 1997, The Fire That Burns was then released as a DVD in 2003. The film’s cinematographic and aesthetic qualities are so high that they generate a desire for a repeat viewing of the entire film or scenes from it.
A choir performance, and acceptance of Sacramental bread, the flight of a paper plane or an intimate moment and passionate kiss – regardless of the nature of the scene the director chooses to focus on — they are filmed in such a professional manner that it makes the story feel more true to life than ever.
When it comes to cinematography, the attention to detail makes the difference. Small props and imaginative use of lighting, shades, and reflections create a sense of depth or intimacy that intensifies the essential natures of the young actors’ character development throughout the story.
Regarding an evaluation of the actors’ performances, the fact is that the story manages to capture — not only the attention of but also the mind of — the viewer of the movie. It inspires strong emotions of sympathy (or anger or antipathy) for the film’s protagonists.
Clément van den Bergh, who plays young Souplier (fans of the Coming-of-Age genre may recall his lead role in Class Trip), delivers an authentic performance. Thanks to his emotive facial expressions, one is truly able to recognize the mischievous nature of his character as well as provide him with the playfulness, innocence and vulnerability for which children of his age are known.
The same comment is also valid for Naël Marandin (with whose character I have more reason to identify) – whose friendliness, love, anger and agony are easily recognized and felt by the moviegoer.
The film’s director, Christophe Malavoy, undertakes the film’s third main character – Abbe de Pradts. His character acts as an antagonist to the young pupils in love but observing his actions as right or wrong, the viewer attains a moral lesson – of what God and love really are.
The Fire That Burns portrays young love, characterized by intensity, exclusivity, and intimacy that few other films offer. Although there are no inappropriate scenes in the entire film, some people (sadly) would find its story controversial.
When Sevrais and Souplier ardently gaze at each other, such a gaze is rare in today’s cinema. Modern films follow strict guidelines of what is and what is not acceptable to portray (which often results in fear, bullying and stigmatization).
Friendship, love, rivalry, obsession are among the issues addressed in The Fire That Burns. Both Sevrais and Abbe de Pradts want to be seen as role models for the young Souplier to positively influence his growth and development. Despite the best intentions, the disastrous consequences seem inevitable (then and even more so nowadays).
A must-see film by all means!! I was not able to identify a single flaw in the storytelling – cinematographically or otherwise. That is why I highly recommend the film to audiences of all ages.
Production photos of the 1971 theatrical play are available at ASP@sia
The Fire That Burns (1997)
Friendship, love, rivality, obsession are among the issues addressed in The Fire That Burns. A "must see" film!!
Here at TheSkyKid.com we have always strived to be the site of reference when it comes to Coming-of-Age narratives and young talent in music and the arts. With regards to the films we review, we try to offer an inside look into the movies we feature and are thankful when a filmmaker agrees to share with our readers his vision and wisdom. Noticing the rise of the Coming-of-Age genre in German productions, and after having featured a review of the 2020 film, Rival, we have approached one of the film’s screenwriters – Lars Hubrich.
Hello Lars, and welcome to TheSkyKid.com. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
Georgi Krastev: Before we get into discussing the outstanding drama you co-wrote with Marcus Lenz, could you give the readers of theskykid.com some idea of your background and how you decided to get involved in the filmmaking business?
Lars Hubrich: Thanks for having me! I’ve always been a huge film fan, and I spent a good amount of my childhood and teenage years in movie theaters. I grew up in Germany but moved to the United States to study architectural history and media studies.
My love for film never went away, though, so I started making short films while in college and then applied to the Radio/TV/Film department at Northwestern, where I spent four years working on my MFA. I then moved back to Germany and spent some years working for agencies, shooting videos. About 15 years ago, I started writing screenplays, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
Georgi Krastev: Rival is a fascinating Coming-of-Age drama. I have read that the story is based on real people, and I found myself associating with the characters (not always for the right reasons) as the story developed.
What motivated you to tell the story of a young boy growing up in an odd and dreary atmosphere?
Lars Hubrich: Marcus is also a documentary filmmaker, and he told me about a moment he witnessed while working on a documentary. It also involved a young boy, a mother, and an older man.
We started talking about that moment and soon realized that we had a great starting point for a fictional story.
Georgi Krastev: As we’ve established, you co-wrote the script of Rival in collaboration with the film’s director, Marcus Lenz. What are the benefits of collaborating as opposed to writing solo?
Lars Hubrich: The benefits are that things can move faster and that you always have a second pair of eyes proofreading quickly. It also makes things less solitary – writing is such a lonely activity, it’s nice to have some company now and then.
Georgi Krastev: In my review of Rival, I referred to the acting of the young Yelizar Nazarenko as one of the most powerful performances in a character-driven Coming-of-Age drama I’ve seen. As a screenwriter, what was your feeling seeing your character come alive through Nazarenko’s performance? How was it working with him?
Lars Hubrich: I was really happy when I saw the boy acting out our scenes. Marcus had an interesting approach: he never showed Yelizar the screenplay. He would just describe the character’s situation and then let Yelizar improvise his reaction. Since we had a very tightly plotted screenplay, a lot of times he would what we imagined, but other times, he would really surprise us with a reaction we didn’t see coming. I love the rawness and vulnerability of his performance.
Georgi Krastev: In recent years, I have seen many great Coming-of-Age films emerging from Germany. Simon Says Goodbye to His Foreskin, A Handful of Grass, and The German Lesson are a few of those that we have reviewed on the site and, of course, your film Rival. Do you think there is a revival trend in the Coming-of-Age narrative and youth-focused films in Germany and Europe as a whole?
Lars Hubrich: I believe coming-of-age films always find an audience. They tell universal stories that a lot of people can relate to, so I don’t think they ever went away. As a matter of fact, I wrote an adaptation of a coming-of-age novel, called Tschick (English title: “Goodbye Berlin”), which Fatih Akin directed in 2016. It’s a bigger budget, more mainstream film, that I am really proud of. It’s very different from “Rival” but worth checking out.
Georgi Krastev: Was there anything you found particularly challenging while writing Rival?
Lars Hubrich: The biggest challenge was telling the story only from the boy’s perspective. We didn’t want the audience to know more than the boy, but we also wanted to clearly relate the plot. So we worked hard on balancing that.
Georgi Krastev: The final scene of the film is quite sudden. What do you hope that viewers will take away from the film`s story and what is your take on open-ended finales in films as opposed to set ones?
Lars Hubrich: I feel that an open-end can be satisfying if it gets you thinking. My hope is that the audience will imagine what happens next, that it will make them think about the film. Open endings can be frustrating if there are open plots and too many unanswered questions, but in our case, I believe that the ending comes naturally.
Georgi Krastev: I want to address distribution. It’s one of the questions that the readers most frequently ask me on my site — where can they find the films that we feature? Rival has been chosen for international distribution by Pluto Film. But I would like to know your take on content distribution these days. Do you think that fans of a particular genre can acquire a movie easier now than in the past?
Lars Hubrich: That’s a great question. There are so many streaming services these days that a lot of people think they have access to more films than ever before. The reality is that the average video store probably had more films than any of the streaming services combined. I still buy a lot of physical media, because there are a lot of films that you simply cannot find online. I also still really like going to the theaters. However, it’s also nice to have a film on something like Netflix, knowing that people all over the world can access it. In our case, I would be very happy to see a theatrical release followed by some streaming service that is accessible globally.
Georgi Krastev: As TheSkyKid.com mainly focuses on Coming-of-Age films, it would be interesting to know if you have a favorite Coming-of-Age film that you can recommend to people reading this interview.
Lars Hubrich: I have to name more than one! Stand By Me, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Once Upon a Time in High School, and, of course, 400 Blows
We would like to thank Lars Hubrich for agreeing to give this interview to the readers of TheSkyKid.com.
You can find other exclusive interviews with people involved with the Coming-of-Age Genre by visiting our dedicated Interviews in Cinema Page.
Some people argue that Coming-of-Age narratives are alike across all movies.
Nothing can be further than the truth, and Marcus Lenz‘s 2020 Coming-of-Age drama, Rival, is a perfect example of that.
Featuring a story that focuses entirely on its nine-year-old protagonist, Roman (Yelizar Nazarenko), the film explores themes such as jealousy, rivalry, illegal immigration, and growing up in an odd and dreary atmosphere.
After the death of his grandmother, with whom he had been living, Roman goes to live with his mother in Germany. His mother had been caring for an older woman who has just died. The surviving husband of the deceased, an elderly German man named Gert Schwarz, has fallen in love with Roman’s mother. Still, while the man has opened his home to the son of the woman who works for him, when Roman senses there is something more than an employer-employee relationship going on, the young boy feels betrayed. He begins seeing Gert as a rival competing for the attention of his mother.
Cinematographically, Rival is a masterpiece. The skills of Cinematographer Frank Amann in controlling the lighting in the scenes, the subtle changes of focus and the depth of field — effectively emphasizes the characters and their emotional state.
The film’s musical score and overall sound design are executed capably. There is no voice-over commentary, and the music that accompanies some of the scenes effectively cues the viewer to an emotion. Uplifting classical music is utilized to boost the euphoric atmosphere in some of the scenes, while in others it highlights the characters’ internal turmoil.
The dialogue is partly in Russian, partly in German and, while that helps in character development, the emotive expressions and posture of the young Yelizar Nazarenko are essential — as a significant part of the storytelling is seemingly achieved by pointing the camera at him.
A young boy sitting on the ground, hugging his knees – is a great example of a posture that doesn’t show his emotions but highlights how he is dealing with them. Emotions create a prevailing mood, while his posture and body language create a dynamic that allows the viewer to understand the trials and tribulations the young boy has to face.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Roman; Yelizar Nazarenko is in just about every scene of the movie resulting in one of the most powerful acting performances in a character driven Coming-of-Age drama you will ever witness.
If you come from an immigrant background (like myself), associating with the story’s young protagonist will not be difficult to achieve. The challenge starts when one has to determine with whom his/her own sympathies lie. One can empathize with Roman for his young age and innocence, but when we get to know his mother or her elderly German employer, we see that, as in life, things are never really in black and white, and one should never be in a rush to pass judgment.
Rival has the undeniable flair and atmosphere of independent European cinema. It tells a story of real people realistically. And even the sudden and cruel finale contributes to the overall impact of the picture by allowing the viewer to interpret the outcome of one boy’s loss of innocence, in his/her own manner.
96 min|Drama|21 Oct 2020
7.0Rating: 7.0 / 10 from 54 usersMetascore: N/A
Nine-year-old Roman follows his mother Oksana to Germany where she is working illegally. She is living there with the 62-year-old widower Gert who suffers from diabetes. Gert tries to make friends with the boy, but Roman struggles fo
Director:Marcus Lenz Creator:Lars Hubrich, Marcus Lenz Actors:Yelizar Nazarenko, Udo Samel, Maria Bruni
Rival is a Coming-of-Age film exploring themes such as jealousy, rivalry, illegal immigration, and growing up in an odd and dreary atmosphere.
The 2021 American thriller, The Djinn, is a perfect example of a full-featured movie that could be much more effective as a short film. However, its good-looking poster artwork and enticing tagline, “what is done cannot be undone”, promised much more than the film was able to deliver to its audience.
The flick’s premise is simple, with its cliché ridden–plot, props, and production design as a whole. Dylan Jacobs (Ezra Dewey) is a twelve year old mute boy who has recently moved into a new house with his father (Rob Brownstein).
Left alone one night, Dylan starts exploring the house and stumbles upon a weird antique book with the peculiar title: Book of Shadows. In the book, Dylan reads a passage that promises that, if one completes a simple ritual, it would summon a demonic spirit of desire known as Djinn, who will grant one wish for anyone who manages to survive an hour in his presence. Curious and enthralled, Dylan decides to give it a try hoping that the Djinn can fulfill his greatest desire and grant him a voice of his own.
From this moment on in the film, viewers should buckle up alongside Dylan as he experiences an evening of fright and survival. Or at least that’s what one would hope for and expect anyway. But, unfortunately, the many flaws in the film soon become apparent. The story drags on and on, the space in which the action takes place is very confined, and the happening itself causes a sense of boredom, which is not even salvaged by the filmmaker’s predictable attempt at waking up the viewer with the help of jump scares.
The only redeeming quality of the film is the acting of the young Ezra Dewey, who practically caries the whole movie, appearing in just about every scene and showcasing his acting talent by portraying a mute boy relying on the emotions reflected on his face.
But, unfortunately, it all feels like a game of Hide and Seek with the Djinn, which could have worked in a 15 minute film, but was completely boring in the 82 minutes of screen time devoted to the plot.
The Djinn feels like an R rated Home Alone, but the truth is you’d be better off watching Home Alone once again rather than wasting your time watching this film.
The Djinn (2021)
Despite superb acting by its young protagonist, The Djinn is a too long attempt at being scary that would have been better as a short film.
Marry Me is a heartwarming short story written and directed by Michelle Lehman. It tells the story of a young girl who has a crush on a boy and is determined to marry him. Childhood love is the most beautiful thing ever, and so is this film. Marry Me portrays a girl who is madly in love with her younger neighbour Jason. But at six years old, a boy is interested in everything BUT girls!! He has other ideas of spending his time – following the bigger boys while trying to tune up his bike and become a real pro.
She tries everything to get noticed by him. She tries to spend a lot of time with him, but he doesn’t care. He wants to grow up to be like the older boys, and he doesn’t see what she is doing for him. Does he love his bike? Fine! So she learns how to bike without the trails (training wheels)! In the story, you see her growing up. She’s making a lot of progress but fails to get his attention until the moment she can jump the springboard. This performance impresses Jason, who is still unable to do it.
Determination pays. And she gets what she wants! Considering the age of the actors, it’s quite possible that they did not even have to get into a role – as at that age the attitude of boys towards girls ( and vice versa ) is pretty much the same all over the world. The film involves some symbolism and gender stereotypes, such as the distinction between girlish and boyish colours (pink versus blue and green) and what sacrifices one can make for love (like trying to change the colour of your bike so it can appear more appealing to the one you have a crush on).
When I watched it, I thought it was an old movie from the ’80s, like a flashback of how life was when we were young. This short film reminded me of when I was in elementary school. The girls played far from the boys, and nobody wanted to be associated with the other gender. When there was a couple, it was a significant event in the playground! Marry Me makes me think of my young days with nostalgia. It is very well done.
The directing of the film is exceptional, which comes as no surprise if we take into account that Director Michelle Lehman specialised in kids photography before involving herself with the cine. The camera movement is smooth, slow motion and close-ups scenes are used for emphasis, and the focus is sharp — effectively blurring the background and showcasing the beautiful expressions of the film’s leads, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jahla Bryant.
In an interview, Michelle says:
“I’d like to move out of photography, which is the job I do to support my filmmaking,” she says. “I’d love to do TV commercials, and I’d love to do kids’ films.” 
She describes her film, Marry Me, as a story: “…based in the ’80s and it’s about a little girl who wants to marry a little boy and he just wants to play with his BMX bike “
Not surprisingly, Marry Me is inspired by a true story based on her childhood experiences.
Marry Me won the 2008 Tropfest festival (the largest short film festival in the world).
Watch Marry Me ( 2008)
Marry Me ( 2008 ) is a joint review of skykid and Shane Foxx ( you can find Shane at his YouTube channel, and while you are there, don’t forget to subscribe to his videos )
Little film, big break (Sacha Molitorisz, published at Brisbane times)
Tropfest winner looks at schoolyard love (ABS local )
Attaining perfect obedience? Can this be an honourable goal for anyone? Is a goal worth pursuing?!? …
The Mexican director Luis Urquiza explores various horrid ways to lose one`s innocence, sacrificing the latitude to make one’s own decisions and betray trust.
Based on real events, the story in Perfect Obedience focuses on the experiences of 13-year-old Julian (Sebastian Aguirre), who attains attendance at a seminary to prepare him for the priesthood. The first scenes convey a sense of idealism — as if to portray the bliss of childhood, surrounded by people who genially care and love you.
Like in Pedro Almodovar’s 2004 film Bad Education (which also has a similar narrative), the blissful depiction of innocence and happiness is achieved through the use of lighting, attention to details and choice of locations. Immersed in this heavenly atmosphere, the viewer is being prepared for the protagonist’s inevitable loss of his ideal world….
a goal no one should pursue ….
Initially, I was led to believe that the film would be inspirational – like the 1962 film Almost Angels – the difference being that the young protagonist in Perfect Obedience is to become a priest instead of a member of a renowned choir.
Julian joins the seminary and faces challenges common to children facing a change in their lives, such as a new school and new acquaintances – some friendly, others not. That`s life! While separated from the external world, the boys who study for the priesthood have the exact wishes and desires as any other kid, which often leads them into mischief. In this regard, I’m reminded of another film about youth in a religious environment: Peter Care`s The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.
The priests who form the seminary faculty appear ready to offer spiritual help and guidance and teach religion with a passion. They encourage the young boys to be courageous and express themselves freely. Yet, it becomes clear that the ultimate goal of some is to attain the perfect obedience of their pupils.
Even before watching the film, the viewer may become wary of what the term “perfect obedience” means upon seeing the quote from the Bible featured on a poster prominently displayed on the film’s cover. From Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false teachers–men who come to you in sheep’s fleeces, but beneath that disguise, they are ravenous wolves”.
In addition to the beautiful cinematography, one of the best features of this film is its soundtrack, which offers a diverse selection of vibes that accompany the scenes: religious hymns, melancholic piano, Spanish Rock and even a song performed by The Rolling Stones. Add to that the film`s theme – a song that bears much of the responsibility for the sense of uneasiness in the viewers …
Perfect Obedience Trailer
Perfect Obedience is not lacking in clichés in addressing its controversial subject matter. But the film doesn’t make its judgements but instead leaves such moral judgments to the viewer. One doesn’t realise it, but the stronger emotions and reflections on what is shown occur after rather than during the film’s screen time. There is nothing graphically shown in the film but, rather, only implied. The finale, so unlike the typical happy endings of most American productions, ensures that the viewer will become disturbed …yet willing to make a contribution toward change.
While Perfect Obedience is not poignant and heart-wrenching like Aisling Walsh`s 2003 film Song for a Raggy Boy, it intrigues enough to keep the viewer’s attention — making use of philosophical and religious thoughts introduced as voice-over narrative. Sebastian Aguirre’s character is present in almost all of the film’s scenes since the story is mainly presented through his eyes – following his loss of innocence on his way to achieving perfect obedience. It’s a goal no one should pursue ….
Perfect Obedience (2014)
The story of a 13-year-old boy who attains attendance at a seminary to prepare him for the priesthood.
I have seen many Coming-of-Age films. Yet never have I seen one with such a touching and beautiful story as the 1996 Portuguese drama Adeus, Pai (Farewell, Father). At thirteen years old, Filipe (Jose Afonso Pimentel) feels the absence of his father, who is always busy and never has time to spend with his son.
One night Felipe’s dreams suddenly come true when his father enters the room and announces that they’re going on vacation
Skaterdater is the fourth short movie in the series of short movies I am reviewing at theskykid.com. From the stats of my blog, I see that the reviews raise some interest which, of course, encourages me to keep on with the trend even if I would have loved it if someone shared his own view in the comments section after reading my review and watching the films.
The movie itself is quite famous and has achieved a status of a classic. However, not only does Skaterdater pay homage to the 1960s skateboard craze, but it also has another significant importance… it is the first film for director Carroll Ballard (he was second unit cinematographer on Skaterdater, and the shooting style can be seen in his later films), and a UCLA Film School classmate of Francis Ford Coppola.
Carroll Ballard has been the director of several great films with young people: The Black Stallion (Francis Ford Coppola, Executive Producer), Fly Away Home, and Duma. I liked the music (Davie Allan and the Arrows) even though I am not that familiar with surf guitar – but it reminded me of the vibes of the Beach Boys. However, I did not like the ending. Or, rather, how the story developed. I felt like screaming “Keep on Skating,” … but you will see what I mean.
Skaterdater is quite a cool short movie with a Coming of Age theme. And, even though there are no spoken words, the story is easy to follow. While it tells a story without using any dialogue, the scenes, camera angles, and final cut speak for themselves. The film reminded me of my own childhood, when all my friends were irritated by me as I preferred to spend time with my girlfriend instead of playing soccer with them.
Skaterdater won nine international film awards and is often thought of asavisual essay on growing up.
“….. a group of 1965 barefooted skateboarders with their single-striped windbreakers hanging 10 on their clay-wheeled pinner board.”
Chicken Boy, pitched as a “dark coming-of-age story”, opens in a disturbing, yet promising manner. But the story’s effectiveness is subsequently brought down by abrupt editing and a somewhat puzzling narrative structure.
The film’s young protagonist, Jacob (Charlie Koehnen), is subjected to bullying in school and neglect at home – the metaphors utilized in the film to symbolize his struggle to deal with the psychological turmoil he’s experiencing are not grasped easily by the viewer.
This is partly offset by the facial expressions of Charlie Koehnen – for whom Chicken Boy is only the second film he’s made in his young life. In an interview for New York No Limits, Chicken Boy‘s director, Kayla Arend, summarized the film’s theme as “ … a creative exploration of toxic masculinity, the lack of gun control and mental health support within the United States”. But while the director’s stated goals for the film are ambitious, most viewers will not be able to pinpoint those motifs within the narrative.
Chicken Boy (2019)
Chicken Boy, described as a "dark coming-of-age story", has great acting but suffers from a weak narrative.
TheSkyKid.com features articles and reviews of coming of age movies, music and books with a focus on adolescent development and on young people in the performing arts. Don't forget to follow us on social networks!