In one way or another, every single movie ever made tells the story of someone’s transformation. In fact, there would be no plot progression–hardly any story at all–without these changes, however great or small, in the same way our own lives would stagnate if we stopped learning. When we change, we either lose a part of ourselves or we gain something new (an idea or a way of seeing things, for example). It’s an intricate balance of pluses and minuses, always. With every loss comes a gain and inherent in every gain is a loss; we can not become wiser without shedding some of our innocence or happier without relinquishing some of our sorrows. The following is a list of films in which the main characters undergo some sort of meaningful transformation, be it physical, mental or emotional. A part of them is changed forever. ♦
One of my favorite films from recent years (and one which I’m glad I saw alone, because I spent large portions of it crying), American Honey tells the story of a teenage girl named Star, who leaves her messy home life to join a group of youngsters road-tripping across the Midwest, selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. Some steamy scenes with Shia LaBeouf follow.
Almodovar’s films are strange and special, and The Skin I Live In is no exception. Dr. Robert Ledgard (played by Antonio Banderas) is a plastic surgeon obsessed with developing lab-made skin that can save the lives of burn victims. He tests his inventions on Vera, who is imprisoned in his mansion against her will.
It’s San Francisco in the 1970s and Minnie Goetz is 15. Unlike her mom (played by Kristen Wiig), Minnie doesn’t feel like she needs a man. She explores her sexuality honestly and without shame, making some bold decisions along the way (including having an affair with her mother’s boyfriend). The film is beautifully shot, with lots of hand-drawn animations overlaid onto the footage. It’s based on a graphic novel of the same name by Phoebe Gloeckner, which is just as good.
The true story of the well-known editor of French magazine Elle, who, following a stroke, becomes totally paralyzed save for his left eye. Bauby is able to communicate with others by blinking and eventually dictates his own memoir, on which the film is based.
The story of an English teacher who changes the lives of his boarding school students using poetry. Professor Keating is unorthodox, especially considering the strict British prep school he works at, and he encourages the schoolboys to live life on their own terms.
Equal parts funny and sad, this film is about a somewhat hopeless Australian woman named Muriel who is obsessed with ABBA and whose ultimate life goal is to get married. Fed up with her life in the not-so-charming Porpoise Spit, she runs away to Sydney with a forged check in her father’s name and decides to reinvent herself.