Our Favorite Coming of Age French Films

As September draws near, it's time to get back into the school spirit and return to a simpler time (or a more anguished time if we're being honest). We've compiled the best French films to watch about coming of age, and of course, how to stream them.

Although France's high schools aren't exactly filled with cheerleaders, pep rallies, and there's a bit more smoking, the stories of the youth in the French films below cover everything from teen pregnancy to girl on girl bullying to growing up in the social justice system. There's so much to learn, so much to see and so many people to love. Scroll down to choose which story will inspire you tonight.

My Golden Days

Ready to sigh and fall helplessly into your own reverie, pondering romances of the past? My Golden Days is lauded by critics with the hardest of hearts as a delicate and incredibly luscious story of hazy memories of love when it was perfect, passionate and unpredictable. On his return to France after many years abroad, a mixup concerning his passport triggers Paul's (Mathieu Almaric) memory of a stormy romance he had decades ago. Winning the César Award for "Most Promising Actress" in 2016 for the role, Lou Roy-Lecollinet is irresistible in her portrayal of Esther, the object of our young hero's affection.  

Rent on YouTube Films for $2.99


If Mean Girls were a drama set in a suburb of France, it would be Breathe with Josephine Japy playing Charlie, the shy 17 year old girl who fades into the background until newcomer Sarah (Lou De Laâge), a magnetic rebel without a cause transfer student comes to town and turns Charlie's world on its axis. Despite being polar opposites, the young girls form a tight bond; a bond that with time grows stronger, more powerful... and more toxic.[nbspA piece of advice: ]This movie is worth all 3 dollars and 99 cents on Amazon. Director Melanie Laurent has really outdone herself this time with this thrilling emotional roller coaster that truly takes you on a journey back to the dark side of high school.

17 Girls

Have you ever made a special pact with all of your childhood friends? Did it involve getting pregnant at the same time in high school? It did for the girls at Gloucester High in Massachusetts in 2008. 17 Filles is a depiction of this true story. It's been likened to Virgin Suicides because of its young female focus, listless, intimate tone, and grainy cinematography.
Rent on Amazon for $3.99, or free with Strand Releasing and Fandor monthly subscriptions on Amazon.

Standing Tall

Standing Tall does an outstanding job of telling a coming of age story that doesn't revolve around a simple country girl looking for love with her mild mannered parents standing by, waiting in the wings to give her some heartfelt advice. 17 year old Malony (Rod Paradot) does find love in this film but he's also a terribly angry young man with violent tendencies so difficult to contain that his mother basically abandoned him and left him in the hands of the judicial justice system. The story follows his journey involving many doubters that give up on whether he'll ever make it as a contributing member of society, but focuses on a few case workers and a judge that don't. With a cast that includes Catherine Deneuve as the juvenile judge and Paradot earning a César for most promising actor for the film, you'll undoubtedly need tissues at the ready.  

Peppermint Soda

For the retro lovers who love Ghost Town, HelloGiggles.com and really anything about the groovy midcentury, there's the adorably forlorn and bubblegum sweetness of Peppermint Soda, a 1979 cult classic newly restored for your viewing pleasure. It's Paris in 1963 and thirteen-year-old Anne (Eléonore Klarwein) lives with divorced mother and older sister Frédérique (Odile Michel). The girls both have their troubles affecting them in different ways, whether it be a distant mother, politics, what it means to be a woman, or just not being able to wear stockings "like the cool girls". Not to mention, the demure fashion sense and style of this chic young cast is enough to keep us glued to the screen.


A coming of age story that's a bit ahead of its time, Tomboy creates a sort of screen shot of an 11-year-old child who is born a girl but decides to take on a male persona once her family relocates to rural France one summer. Céline Sciamma captures an honest, genuine moment in a young child's development, having a carefully guarded secret at such a young age, and the strength you must possess to grow into your own.  

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