18. The Hand (from Eros) (2004, Wong Kar-Wai)
The Hand is Wong Kar-Wai’s segment in the film Eros, a trio of short films about love and sex. Using Wong Kar-Wai’s unique style full of melancholic romance, the film tells the story of the love affair that occurs between a young tailor (Chang Chen) and a prosperous lady of the evening (Gong Li).
With opulent cinematography, wistful romantic music, and sensual, erotic performances, the film evokes the longing and passion of a youthful infatuation.
19. Never Like the First Time! (2006, Jonas Odell)
This 15 minute Swedish short film uses real interviews with four Swedish people recounting their first sexual experiences and sets them to four different styles of animation. The stories run the gamut from comic to frightening, with the animations designed to suit each person’s account.
These anecdotes reveal a certain rawness about sex that is not often shown in film. Aside from the animation, these stories are told in a documentary-like realism, exhibiting certain societal pressures and youthful expectations surrounding sex.
20. Superbad (2007, Greg Mottola)
Produced by the comedic wonder that is Judd Apatow, Superbad accurately and hilariously captures the awkwardness of teen social interaction during the hormone-raging years of adolescence.
During their senior year, best friends (soon to be parted by the coming of college) Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) concoct a plan to illegally buy alcohol in order to win over their high school crushes and lose their virginities. Their plan goes awry, leading to a series of comedic scenerios all on the search to get laid.
With snappy dialogue and slapstick, the film touches upon realistic issues of youth such as the struggles to obtain alcohol, clumsily trying to seduce girls, and dealing with the pains of leaving one’s childhood friends for college.
21. Fishtank (2009, Andrea Arnold)
This 2009 British film explores the emerging sexuality of an isolated and emotionally unstable fifteen year old.
Mia is a turbulent teenager living in an East London public housing project with her single mother and younger sister. Alienated by her former friends who taunt her on the streets and feeling neglected at home, she takes refuge in hip-hop dancing, which she hopes to one day turn into a career. When her mother’s new boyfriend, Conor (Michael Fassbender) takes up residence in their house, a sexual tension develops between him and Mia.
The charming and attractive Conor takes an interest in Mia and encourages her to audition as a dancer for performances. For a troubled loner such as Mia, that attention is significant. The film exhibits the simple teenage desires for loving and emotionally stable relationships in a tender and heartfelt character study.
22. Stoker (2013, Park Chan-Wook)
Park Chan-Wook’s first English language film, Stoker follows the darkly sexual coming of age story of a fiery, yet melancholic girl blossoming into adulthood.
India (Mia Wasikowska), a highly intelligent eighteen year old high schooler, loses her father in a horrible car accident. After his funeral, India’s callous mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), invites India’s mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) to stay with them. As Evelyn and Charlie’s relationship grow intimate, India is exposed to Charlie’s violent behavior. His fierce charisma fascinates India as she is strangely attracted to his brutal nature.
The film’s dark tone matched with the sexual elements of the film yield an unusual coming of age tale. Tension, both horrific and sexual, permeate the film and its characters, making for an exciting and ominous thriller.
23. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, Abdellatif Kechiche)
This film, which caught the world by storm in 2013 and is critically hailed as a masterpiece, tells the erotic story of one young woman’s exploration of sexuality, sexual orientation, and love.
Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a fifteen year old student sees a striking young woman with blue hair on the street one day and is instantly attracted. Although already in a relationship with a guy at school, Adèle fantasizes about the girl on the street and becomes confused about her sexual identity.
She goes out with an openly gay friend and meets the girl with the blue hair, Emma (Léa Seydoux), at a lesbian bar. Emma, a college art student, is taken with Adèle and the two begin a steamy romantic affair. Even though she is taunted by her peers about her sexuality and unable to come out to her conservative parents, Adèle becomes deeply in love with Emma.
The film deals with issues of sexuality and identity as Adèle explores her feelings and desires for Emma in the midst of traditional gender roles and societal expectations.
24. Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 (2013, Lars Von Trier)
Von Trier’s first volume of Nymphomaniac chronicles the adolescence and sexual history of his heroine, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stacy Martin as Young Joe), as she recounts her “sinful” tale to aged bachelor Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård).
Seligman finds Joe, battered and beaten, on the street near his apartment and takes her in. Joe calls herself a horrible human being and begins to tell Seligman her life and history as a sex addict. She recites her childhood and first sexual experiences masturbating and losing her virginity to the boy down the road, Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf). As she tells her story, the asexual Seligman analyzes her stories and compares them to his areas of interest, such as fly fishing and Bach.
In Joe’s account, she began her life as a nymphomaniac at age two. Her interest in sex begins first as a child-like exploration of sensation. As a teenager, it evolves into a rebellion against love. Her lust then transforms into a compulsion as she becomes a young adult.
Like many of Von Trier’s films, Nymphomaniac was controversial upon release because of its soft-core pornographic sequences and unsimulated sex using body doubles. Regardless of the controversy, the film stylishly illustrates the journey of one woman’s struggle with her obsessive (and ultimately damaging) sexuality.
25. Paradise: Hope (2013, Ulrich Seidl)
Third in the director’s Paradise trilogy, Paradise: Hope realistically portrays a young teenager’s girlish crush on an older man during her stay in “fat camp.”
Thirteen-year-old Melanie (Melanie Lunz) is sent to a summer camp for overweight children and teenagers, where the counselors and coaches create a regimen for weight-loss. She develops a crush on the camp doctor, a middle-aged man at least thiry years her senior. He plays with her during her stay there, such as using his stethoscope on her chest during her physcial examinations and having her do the same to him. Led by her budding sexuality, Melanie makes advances towards him, which he reluctantly prevents.
The sublte, realistic performances don’t explicitly let the audience into the minds of the characters, yeilding a tense, ambiguous relationship between Melanie and the doctor.
Author Bio: Esther Zeilig is a graduate from UCLA’s School of Film and Television, with an emphasis in Cinematography. She spends her free time doing what she loves: watching film, working on her photography, and snuggling with her cats.