8. Election (1999)
Alexander Payne’s “Election” begins with the miserable aftermath of an inappropriate relationship between Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) and her teacher Dave. He takes advantage of the lonely and not very popular Tracy by complimenting her intelligence, strategies and beauty.
Tracy naively believes that their relationship was between two consenting adults with mutual interests. However, the subtext of them having sex in his baby-toy-infested house to “Three Times a Lady” is unsettling and awkward. Only Dave’s best friend and fellow teacher Jim (Matthew Broderick) knows about their relationship and warns him about the repercussions and immorality of it all.
However, Dave insists that they are in love. He becomes careless and sends her homemade love-notes that are seen by her mother, inevitably leading to him getting fired, divorced, losing custody of his child but, luckily, not imprisoned.
Tracy stays in school and continues her unfailing goal of becoming student body president. Jim dislikes her immensely. Not only for her relationship with Dave, but because of her know-it-all attitude and constant hand-raising. This leads him to do whatever he must to stop her from becoming president.
7. Fish Tank (2009)
Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis) is an antagonistic 15-year-old hip-hop dancer who is isolated from her former friends and her dysfunctional family. Her only refuge is dancing alone in a deserted flat, until her mother (Kierston Wereing) brings her new boyfriend Conor (Michael Fassbender) home. Mia is initially suspicious of this handsome, shirtless stranger who interrupts her dancing and is quick to compliment her.
Often ignored by her mother, she is confused by Conor’s support of her dancing. He asks her to show off some moves for him and lends her his camera so she can make an audition tape. He likes being together as a family with both Mia and her younger sister, even teaching them how to fish. He seems to genuinely care for Mia, although maybe too much.
For instance, when she hurts her foot fishing, he gives her a piggyback ride so she won’t need to walk to the car. When she gets drunk and passes out from vodka she steals from her mother’s over-sexed party, Conor carries her to bed, removes her shoes, pants, and puts a blanket over her.
Unbeknownst to him, she isn’t unconscious but only pretending to be. She begins to get jealous of her mother, banging the door repeatedly when she hears them having sex. Over the course of the film, they continue to flirt and become more intimate, much to not only her mother’s dismay.
6. Manhattan (1979)
Woody Allen pIays the twice divorced, 42-year-old Isaac Davis, who publically dates the much younger Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), a sweet 17-year-old girl who is still in High School. The two talk about existential problems and have sex, as all Woody Allen couples do.
Isaac frequently tells her that she should go out with boys her own age and gain as many experiences as she can instead of being dragged down by his cynicism. He also warns her not to fall in love with him, but unfortunately for him, she already has. When the opportunity arises for her to go to London, he encourages her to grab it but she has mixed feelings about going to school so far away and not being able to see him.
Isaac takes the decision out of her hands when he breaks up with her for another woman. While he continues to date, his feelings for Tracy don’t ever disappear completely and she still seems like someone who “makes life worth living”, which makes his on-going relationship even more complicated.
5. American Beauty (1999)
Written by Alan Ball (True Blood, Six Feet Under) and directed by Sam Mendez, “American Beauty” centers on the average Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Bored and underappreciated in both his office job and dead marriage to Carolyn (Annette Bening), he finally finds beauty during one of his daughter Jane’s (Thora Birch) cheerleading performances.
Lester becomes infatuated with his daughter’s 16-year-old aspiring model friend Angela (Mena Suvari). Her dancing sparks an inner desire within him, making his bottled-up needs reach a threshold and overflow through manifested rose petals. In his mind, she is dancing only for him. He becomes worthy of this young girl’s attention, even for just a moment. Her presence awakens him from his dull and inferior life.
After the game, Lester is barely able to speak to Angela, making it obvious to both her and Jane that he likes her. Jane apologizes for her dad, explaining that he’s just a loser. Angela doesn’t mind and actually thinks he’s sweet. She admits that she likes being wanted and boasts about her supposed love affairs with older men.
Lester keeps dreaming of rose petals and becomes focused and determined to “look good naked” after he hears that she would find him even more attractive if he worked out a little. She gives him purpose in life.
4. Oldboy (2003)
In this South Korean New Wave masterpiece, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is abducted on the night of his daughter’s 4th birthday and imprisoned alone in a hotel-like room for 15 years. He is confined with no explanation as to who has done this or why. For over a decade, he trains, eats nothing but dumplings, tattoos himself and digs his way through the wall with a spare chopstick. However, before he can make his escape, he wakes up on the outside, released without a reason.
He stops at a sushi restaurant, where he meets the young chef Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung), and orders a whole live octopus. After their hands touch, he faints and Mi-do, already drawn to him, takes him to her apartment to take care of him. While he’s unconscious, she reads the diary he wrote during his imprisonment and learns about his emotional turmoil. With this understanding, she decides to help him on his quest for revenge against the unknown man who stole his life.
Despite their near 20-year-age gap and having only just met, the two already feel like they are meant to be with each other. The sequence of their relationship is very illogical, with the innocent Mi-do promising her virginity to him straight after the woman-deprived Oh Dae-su tries to sexually assault her in the bathroom. Her willingness to give herself to him seems nonsensical at first, but after the viewer learns the truth behind why Oh Dae-su was abducted, her actions become clear.
3. Lolita (1962)
Due harsh restrictions and censorship during the 60s, Stanley Kubrick’s controversial “Lolita” strayed off from Nabakov’s original novel and his adapted screenplay, downplaying its sexual content, leaving much to be inferred from double entendres, innuendoes and visually suggestive scenes.
Though Lolita is twelve and a half in the book and not very well developed, Kubrick was encouraged to choose an actress who looked mature for her age and went with the iconic 14-year-old Sue Lyon. The first time Little Lo is seen is in a full body shot of her reclining in her bikini sunbathing, reading and listening to pop music. Although initially hesitant, immediately after seeing her, the 40-something Humbert changes his mind about renting a room from her mother – leaving him and Lolita plenty of time to bond.
Their relationship may be inferred and off-screen, but there is still plenty of evidence that their relationship is more than it seems. Due to Humbert’s constant worries that Lolita will say the truth about who he is to her and what they do together, and his growing obsession and possessiveness over her, he unravels. And it’s surprising to find out who the true catalyst to his downfall is.
2. Leon: The Professional (1994)
Léon (Jean Reno) is a “cleaner”, or more clearly – a hitman who lives in the same apartment block as the troubled 12-year-old Mathilda (Natalie Portman) and her dysfunctional family. The corrupt DEA, led by Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) realize that the cocaine they had stashed with her father has been cut. They raid the apartment while Mathilda is out shopping and Norman ends up killing her entire family, including her 4-year-old little brother.
Mathilda comes home while the DEA are still there and seeks refuge in Léon’s apartment. She learns about his profession and proposes that in exchange for doing household chores and teaching him how to read, he teaches her how to become a “cleaner” just like him. Initially hesitant, he follows through by teaching her how to use weapons and shoot guns. Mathilda models herself on Léon. She quits smoking, tries to swear less, and copies his calisthenic moves.
Leon initially only sees her as his apprentice, someone who could take his place, but also sees her as a vulnerable child, who still has a long way to go before she is emotionally mature. Mathilda, however, thinks of Léon as her saviour and falls in love with him, and tries her best to prove herself to him.
1. Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation” is set in Tokyo, where the two main characters’ feelings of isolation and aimlessness are magnified due to being misunderstood in this foreign country.
Stuck in the same hotel, Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) repeatedly bump into each other and end up relating to each other’s loneliness in this unfamiliar culture over a drink at the bar. Their friendship grows and their tension builds, resulting in a series of emotional, inevitable goodbyes when Bob has to return to America.
Bob is a middle aged, accomplished actor, filming a whisky commercial for 2 million dollars, leaving his wife of 25 years and his children behind. Charlotte is a recent college graduate who is in Tokyo for her husband’s (Giovanni Ribisi) photography work. During production, Murray was 53-years-old while Johansson was only 18-years-old, but since she’s portraying a college graduate who has been married for a while; it’s assumed that she’s in her early 20s.
Charlotte’s youth is reflected through her perception of her first encounter with Bob. He was invisible to her when they met in the crowded elevator, just another older man she smiled at when she caught him looking at her, only to immediately forget about it.
Charlotte recounts the first time she saw him in the hotel bar where she sees his sarcastic mannerisms and expressions that give him a sense of character, and that’s what makes her remember him – his personality (and maybe his mascara leftover from his photoshoot).
Author Bio: Susannah Farrugia is an undergraduate Psychology student at the University Of Malta. Her life is measured in films and television shows. She enjoys drawing scenes and designing posters based on the films she has seen.