Plenty For Teens in 2014: If I Stay, Palo Alto and more

Posted on 11 August 2014
By Ben Howarth
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So far 2014 has offered us wildly differing cinematic takes on adolescence, from social rebellion in Divergent, to coping with true love and terminal illness in The Fault in Our Stars. Richard Linklater’s extraordinary twelve-years-in-the-making Boyhood also offered a uniquely personal, yet unerringly familiar perspective on growing up. Here are some of the year’s forthcoming films for and about teenagers…

If I Stay

Chloë Grace Moretz’s reign as Hollywood teen queen continues in this weepy adaptation of Gayle Forman’s 2009 novel, about a gifted girl whose life hangs in the balance following a tragic car accident. Mia, a talented cellist, enters a distressing, out-of-body experience while in a coma, leaving her with a major decision to make about whether or not her life is worth hanging onto. The deciding factor could be her boyfriend Adam, played by Jamie Blackley, star of British thriller uwantme2killhim?. If you’ve still got any tears left in you after The Fault in Our Stars, this might be the film to get them out of your system.

Release date: 29th August

Palo Alto

Adolescence is something of a preoccupation in the Coppola filmmaking dynasty. Francis, has examined some of the issues common to American teenagers in Peggy Sue Got Married, and his S.E. Hinton adaptations The Outsiders and Rumblefish. Sofia has shown a similar fascination with teen characters in The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette and The Bling Ring. Now it seems that, with her directorial debut, Gia Coppola (Francis’s granddaughter) has taken up the baton. Adapted from a collection of short stories by Hollywood’s most popular polymath James Franco, the film follows the misadventures of a group of Californian high school students, as April, played by Emma Roberts, struggles to maintain her innocence in a world that revolves around drugs, sex, violence and a seductive PE teacher Mr. B (Franco).

Release date: 3rd October

The Maze Runner

Yet another series of novels about teens in peril becomes a major movie franchise. In James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, Thomas is brought to the Glade, a patch of land surrounded by a giant, treacherous maze, in which the vicious ‘Grievers’ launch deadly attacks. Thomas has no memory of his previous life, and the residents of the Glade – a load of other teenager boys – are suspicious of his arrival, especially when he begins to ask questions about what might lie beyond the dangerous labyrinth in which they are imprisoned. The arrival of a girl, Teresa, prompts excitement, tension and conflict. With a sequel already announced, expect plenty of fast-paced action and impressive visual effects from this coming-of-age version of Pac-Man.

Release date: 10th October

Gone Too Far!

Last year’s BFI London Film Festival had no shortage of teen-themed films, from The Selfish Giant, a fable about two Bradford boys trying to make it big as scrap metal collectors, to Sixteen, the story of an African child soldier’s attempts to rebuild his life in London. Both those films garnered nominations in the ‘Best British Newcomer’ category, alongside director Destiny Ekaragha, whose debut feature Gone Too Far! takes a light-hearted look at the cultural divide between a Peckham teenager, Yemi, and his estranged brother Iku, who has grown up in Nigeria but has now arrived in London. Unimpressed by his brother’s lack of awareness of local customs and fashion sense, Yemi struggles to keep both his family loyalty and street cred intact.

Release date: 10th October

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

If you haven’t already been following the Hunger Games, you need to make it an urgent priority in your life. The series, based on Suzanne Collins’s devastating dystopian novels, takes aim at a fascist society’s many dysfunctions. A wealthy, bourgeois, ruling class exploits and oppresses the masses through systemic violence, the cult of celebrity and reality television. In this third instalment, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) must draw upon her survival experiences to navigate her way through an epic political revolution, in which she has become an important figure. Philip Seymour Hoffman had completed most of his scenes as Plutarch Heavensbee before his death earlier this year, but has been digitally recreated for some key moments that had not yet been shot.

Release date: 20th November

On 12th August, at 6pm, Ben Howarth will be hosting a Discover Tuesdays screening of The Golden Dream at Picturehouse, FACT. Winner of several international awards, the film follows four Guatemalan teenagers as they set off on a perilous journey to make a new life for themselves in the United States. A discussion about the film will take place in the bar afterwards. You can buy tickets here: