Indie Filmmakers Perfect the Coming-of-Age Film
By Abby Franklin
Indie filmmakers seem to have mastered the coming-of-age-story this season and they’re offering it up on a silver-screen platter for moviegoers in the form of The Way, Way Back and The Kings of Summer.
The two films’ directors (Jim Rash and Nat Faxon for The Way, Way Back and Jordan Vogt Roberts for Kings of Summer) chose 14 as the ultimate age of awkward for their lead guys. Up-and-comers Liam James (Duncan in The Way, Way Back) and Nick Robinson (Joe in The Kings of Summer) portray boys at this ripe age living out circumstances of a summer gone different.
Each character begins their respective story believing the summer to be doomed. The two KNOW this fate was dealt by the beating hand of a respective single parent (Duncan’s mom and Joe’s dad) and resent every aspect of their early summer existence. That is, until they discover the game-changer. For Duncan, it’s Water Wizz Waterpark. For Joe, it’s a hand-built man cabin in the woods.
In each case, no matter how random or peculiar, the characteristically awkward boy figures out what they’ve actually discovered is bravery within their selves.
In an interview at the 2013 Sundance Festival, Vogt Roberts talked about his vision for The Kings of Summer. He categorized the leading boys, a triumvirate of man-cabin occupants, not as awkward but as “self inflicted outsiders.”
“This movie is so much about that childlike wonder, just a sense of nostalgia and what it’s like to be that age.” – Vogt Roberts
Nostalgia is the exact wording used to describe The Way, Way Back. Nate von Zumwalt, an editorial coordinator at Sundance, called it “this year’s nostalgic summer comedy.”
So, what is it about these two movies that resulted in their dance to the big screen?
Well, the word “nostalgia” sums it up. The 3D-crazed, five-of-the-same-film-for-box-office-winnings jig is up and moviegoers are yearning for rawness over repetition and script over surround sound. These directors poured their hearts out and audiences responded. It seems as though diving into a production pool of Hollywood status-quo’s headfirst gave these directors a chance to surface buoying something important– proof of a pulse in spent (literally) moviegoers. Let’s just hope the industry has the drive to dive.
Check out our interviews with The Way, Way Back‘s AnnaSophia Robb and The Kings of Summer stars Nick Robinson and Moises Arias, plus co-director Jim Rash talks about winning the Oscar for writing another coming-of-age flick, The Descendents!