Going through your 20s and 30s can feel like going in circles – hence the creation of the term “quarter-life crisis.” Dealing with dead-end jobs, considering going to grad school for about a month every year, getting nowhere with paying off student debt, getting back together with your ex – these things happen to the best of us. At some point, you’re bound to ask yourself, “Is my life going anywhere?” And, well, of course it is. But, you’re definitely not the only person who’s ever felt this way.
Sometimes, the best way to get out of a rut is to engage with stories from others who have gone through the same thing. Sure, you could read a book or two about a twenty-something finding their way in the world, or listen to a few too many angsty songs in a row. However, what’s better for dealing with these feelings than a good old movie marathon? So get that popcorn in the microwave because we’ve got some must-watch recommendations for movies to help you through your quarter-life crisis.
“Napoleon Dynamite” (2004)
Misfits unite! When this gem was released in 2004, it performed way past its original budget, and this indie film quickly became a beloved major motion picture. In all of its quirkiness, “Napoleon Dynamite” is the perfect movie for lost souls. Ultimately, it’s about embracing the nothingness of life in the middle of nowhere, and knocking yourself out doing stupid stuff.
It’s also an incredibly candid portrait of the American pastoral high school in all its bizarreness. If you’re looking to laugh through the pain and get a boost of nostalgia, “Napoleon Dynamite” should top your list. In 2022, some of Napoleon’s outfit choices could be great style inspo, too.
“Eighth Grade” (2018)
Released in 2018, “Eighth Grade” may sound like the a film for a younger audience, but it definitely is not. This movie, written and directed by comic Bo Burnham, is about the trials and tribulations of a young girl’s final week of eighth grade.
It’s difficult to watch at times, and hilarious at others, but it will bring you back to how serious everything felt at 14-years-old. The world didn’t end then, and it’s certainly not ending now (hopefully). The stunning performance by Elsie Fisher as protagonist Kayla really sells the role, drawing empathy and relatability to such a young soul. If you see yourself in Kayla, you’re not alone.
“I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” (2006)
A reminder that belonging exists even in the strangest of circumstances, “I’m a Cyborg” is an idiosyncratic movie that will make you fall in love with the inherent weirdness that constitutes life.
In it, protagonist Cha Young-goon begins to believe that she is a cyborg and is then admitted into a psychiatric hospital to treat her psychosis. While there, she is able to meet other people who are similarly afflicted, including a man who believes he is capable of stealing the souls of others. If you’ve felt a little out of place lately, or maybe like you’re becoming irrational, you’ll find comfort in this pick.
“The Worst Person in the World” (2021)
A great film for contemporary millennial ennui, “The Worst Person in the World” just gets it. Taking place over the course of four years, this film takes a realistic approach to showing the journey of growth and understanding yourself that really occurs when you feel lost.
The protagonist, Julie, undergoes problems with her love life and her career, as well as with her relationship to the world at large, requiring some intense self-actualization. Sometimes, embracing that you’re not the best person ever is the right path.
A take on what it means to choose your life, “Nomadland” is not a glamorous look at the life of a traveler. Winning three Oscars, this movie is a beautiful to watch and emotionally evocative.
Following Fern, a woman in her 60s who lost her husband and her more traditional job, “Nomadland” depicts a year in the life of a woman who travels from state to state for seasonal work at national parks and Amazon warehouses. Fern is familiar with others who live the same life she does and is tempted to settle down more than once. Ultimately, “Nomadland” explores what it means to make personal sacrifices in order to see what’s out there for all of us.
Told in a series of vignettes, “Tampopo” is a treasured movie that explores the relationship between people and food. A fantastic watch for the amateur chefs out there, this film delves into the smaller pleasures of a life lived surrounded by the people you love and focused on a passion.
“Tampopo” will remind you that everyone has something in life that they are meant to do, but it takes time to figure out exactly how to do it. At the very least, taking time to enjoy this flick will give you a craving for the foods that remind you of home.
“Y Tu Mama También” (2001)
Over 20 years old now, “Y Tu Mama También” is the road trip movie to end all road trip movies. A coming-of-age film, of course this is about finding yourself. More than that, though, “Y Tu” is a road trip movie without an actual destination, setting it apart from similar films from the get-go.
Following two teenage boys and a woman in her mid-20s as they travel to a beach that does not exist, this film has much to say about young friendships and the timelessness of a long car-ride on-screen. “Y Tu” will remind you that you do not need direction in order to end up somewhere worthwhile.
A Twitter thread that was adopted into a feature length film? Seems a bit gimmicky. Ultimately, though, “Zola” delivers. About a young woman who is pulled into a weekend trip to Florida by a fascinating new friend that quickly goes awry, this film is based on a true story that was recounted on Twitter and quickly went hyper-viral.
Fitting for a quarter-life crisis, this film is a reminder that life certainly doesn’t ever seem to go as planned. It’s also a reminder that Nicholas Braun is one of the greatest character-actors working in Hollywood. Best to watch with a couple of friends, “Zola” will make you feel slightly better about the direction of your life.
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