Cinema Chats: A Column

Emma Truchan, Editor-in-Chief

   Coming-of-age movies seem to strike a sense of nostalgia in their viewers, no matter if it’s a 20-something year-old audience, middle-aged moms, or a group of teens still in high school. As I’ve spent three-quarters of my senior year in my bedroom, though, the genre has grown even more sentimental to me. Rather than viewing them with a sense of connection, thinking about all the ways my adolescence is reflected in such films, I’ve felt a sense of loss. Instead of similarities, all I can see are the ways the zenith of my high school career has failed to meet the standards set by the coming-of-age genre.

   Possibly the thing that I’ve missed most due to working from home has been my connection with my mentors and my drive to succeed. And Director Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society shows me how much I’ve missed. In the eyes of the young students, I see not only motivation to learn, but inspiration — something I feel I’ve lost in my education in the past year. Rather than feeling invigorated by John Keating’s integration of the classic literature with ambition and purpose, I feel deflated, burnt out, and dull. I cannot seize the day if the day has seized me.

   More than losing my vigor and sense of purpose, Director James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, reminds me of all of the broad personal connections I’ve missed during the pandemic, and the personal growth that comes with those relationships. While Sutter experiences an incredible amount of personal growth and finds himself in his changing relationship with Amy and his parents, I feel static. He finds himself, and faces the vast world with courage once he does, where I feel as if I’ve retreated inward. I am not yet brave enough to take on this new chapter.

   The most trivial, but somehow the most painful, aspect of my senior year I’ve missed has been the simple, innocent, dumb fun. And although I’m not much of a partier, the easy laughs and smiles of Director Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused pulls on my heartstrings. I don’t care much for the activities, but I miss the nights of aimlessly driving with my friends, finding amusement in unexpected places, and laughing at the most ridiculous things until my stomach hurts. I feel robbed of the simple joys of what was meant to be the best years of my life.

   At the cusp of adulthood, I feel a detachment from the movies that were supposed to be my guides. I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff, with no parachute or trampoline to cushion my fall. I’m missing something vital that will prevent me from failure as I move into the next era of my life. Maybe no one is ever really ready to take this great step forward, but that doesn’t make the fear and the doubt any less real.