Millennials don’t have it easy. From finding the ideal life partner, carving out the perfect career, buying a property and just generally, y’know, figuring out what it all means, there’s a lot to consider. Fortunately for all those born somewhat nebulously between the mid-1980s and early 2000s, there’s a whole heap of films to comfort us whilst we weep silently onto our smashed avocado on toast. Here are 10 of the best films to which millennial viewers can relate.
Home Alone (1990)
If you were to compile a list of childhood ‘rite of passage’ films, then Home Alone would be a criminal omission. With its timeless messages of youthful resourcefulness and not judging someone by their appearances, Home Alone is a quintessential family film. Plus, if you ever feel slightly embittered and resentful about life, the universe and everything, you could quite easily latch onto the secondary themes of abandonment and neglect. Who’s to blame for Kevin being left behind? His parents? The wider family? The busyness of modern life?
Frances Ha (2013)
The film which first propelled Greta Gerwig into the public consciousness, Frances Ha – written by and starring Gerwig – follows the troubled life of a 20-something dancer in New York City. Juggling the pursuit of her professional dreams, attempting to earn a decent living and find the perfect partner, Frances wrestles with the difficulties of modern life. She watches her peers successfully achieve the conventional milestones of adulthood, namely finding a career and getting married, whilst trying to silence the internal voices which cast doubt on her own life’s direction. This may sound overly melancholic but if there’s a note of hope, it’s that whilst it’s commendable to follow your dreams, there’s also courage in taking the pragmatic route.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Aside from being really good fun, Edgar Wright’s eccentric foray into the world of graphic novels holds many a lesson for the millennial. Despite already being in a relationship, our eponymous ‘hero’ falls for a girl – Ramona – with whom he becomes fixated. As his obsession deepens, so does Scott’s seeming belief that he is the centre of the universe, and so is largely unaware – or uninterested – in the lives of those around him. Scott and Ramona repeatedly refuse to take responsibility for their actions and both exercise creative freedom in their recollections of the past. Scott Pilgrim is a cautionary tale for millennials. Putting aside the seven evil exes, it depicts the consequences of a self-centred life.
We couldn’t very well leave this one out could we?! Richard Linklater’s ultimate coming of age story, filmed over the course of 12 years, follows Mason Evans Jr. from the age of six to eighteen as he navigates first childhood, then his teenage years, before heading off to college, leaving his long suffering mother to heart-breakingly remark, “I just thought there would be more.”’ Linklater displays a keen ear for the millennial identity crisis, most notably when Mason’s photography teacher, Mr Turlington, corners him in the darkroom and asks “Who do you wanna be, Mason? What do you wanna do?”
The Bling Ring (2013)
“It all comes down to bad choices…who do you have as your friends.” Sofia Coppola’s sixth film is a polemic on the first celebrity-obsessed generation to be reared on social media. As in much of her other work, in The Bling Ring Coppola explores the theme of loneliness in the modern world. Her characters are a group of teenagers who, though financially secure, struggle to find meaning and value in their lives. To fill the void, they turn their attention to the mansions of LA’s celebrity elite; breaking into Paris Hilton’s home and claiming for themselves those A-List artefacts in the belief that they might elevate their misdirected lives.
Spring Breakers (2012)
If you fancy hosting a two-part film night on the subject of the American Dream gone wrong, you could do worse than partner The Bling Ring with Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Whilst not overly concerned with conventional narrative, the film follows four college girls on their spring break as they descend into a world of crime with the help of a drug dealer played by James Franco. Similar to Sofia Coppola, the pop-culture values of the characters in Spring Breakers are there to be ridiculed, but Korine eschews any judgement of their actions, preferring instead to allow the kaleidoscopic hedonism of the spring breakers’ antics to envelop the audience.
The Social Network (2010)
Any film documenting the millennial life can hardly fail to acknowledge the role of social media, so it would be uncharitable to omit the Aaron Sorkin penned, David Fincher directed drama chronicling the founding and flourishing of Facebook. The story of how the world’s largest social media platform came into being is now well understood, thanks largely to this film’s depiction of how one outcast’s longing for connection led him relentlessly to create a platform to allow him to have all the ‘friends’ he could ever want, and yet still find it impenetrably difficult to forge meaningful connection with another human being.
Easy A (2010)
The high school ‘coming of age’ trope is one of modern cinema’s most well-trodden paths. All the more remarkable then that 2010’s Easy A, featuring a star-making performance from Emma Stone, manages to do something a bit different with the formula. Ostensibly a comedy about the perils of the high school rumour mill, the film inverts the tendency of its peers to portray the loss of virginity as a holy grail, whilst at the same time taking comic aim at social media (as well as fake news…).
The Lion King (1994)
Simba is born into a world of privilege, with the world at his paws. He spends his early life sauntering around the savannah, full of youthful optimism that personal greatness lies ahead. That dream is shattered in the wake of an unfortunate WTA (Wildebeest Traffic Accident) and Simba is manipulated into believing the best option is to run away from his problems. By the time our hero has bucked up his ideas and decided to take his place in the world, the jealous, greedy, power hungry older generation have sold his inheritance right down a faecal ridden stream without a propulsion device!
The Spectacular Now (2013)
Most millenials at one point or another will have wrestled with the pressure of living in ‘the moment’. Sutter Keely, played by Miles Teller, revels in his reputation as a high school party animal. Scared of what becoming an adult will mean and the prospect of having dreams which could end in failure, he actively avoids making significant life choices for the benefit of making the most of ‘now’. Having been abandoned by his father and dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter struggles to believe that he’s worthy of anyone’s love, least of all Aimee, played by Shailene Woodley who he pushes away. It’s a film which directly addresses the anxieties of late teen life; the point at which you can feel like you know who you are, only for it to shatter and reform in an instant.