20 Best Quarter Life Crisis Movies to Watch Right Now

20 Best Quarter Life Crisis Movies to Watch Right Now

February 5, 2024

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There’s something comforting about seeing someone undergo the same post-graduation, mid-20s slump you’re going through. The disappointment of life not panning out the way you thought it would doesn’t seem as severe when people your age are talking and sulking and laughing about it onscreen, too. And even if not all of these movies end on a hopeful note, at the very least, they remind you that you’re far from alone in feeling the way you do.

If you’re looking for a relatable and comforting quarter-life crisis film to put on, then we have you covered. Below are the very best of them that you can stream right now.

11. Begin Again (2013)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

John Carney

Actors

Adam Levine, Andrew Sellon, Aya Cash, Catherine Keener

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Feel-Good

John Carney, who directed the critically and commercially successful Once, may be the world’s best captor of charm. Begin Again tells the story of a broken-hearted singer who gets discovered by a failed showbiz executive. Their ideas and love for music are all they have to face their failures and bring their creativity to life. The original songs are charming and from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Adam Levine, and Cee-Lo Green, the cast generate sparkling chemistry and portray the story beautifully. Begin again is a sweet and effortless watch, yet far from being your classic rom-com.

12. 20th Century Women (2016)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

Mike Mills

Actors

Alex Wexo, Alia Shawkat, Alison Elliott, Annette Bening

Moods

A-list actors, Lighthearted, Lovely

Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and many other big names star in this comedy-drama directed by Mike Mills (Beginners, Thumbsucker.) The story spans multiple generations but starts in 1979, where Dorothea Fields (Bening) is finding it increasingly difficult to raise her son alone. She enlists the help of two other women, one her son’s age and the other a New Yorker in her twenties who is very active in the punk scene. The three women, of three different generations and personalities as well as takes on the concept of “only a man can raise a man,” play different roles in this kid’s life. 20th Century Women is based on director Mike Mill’s own upbringing in Southern California.

13. Only Yesterday (1991)

best

8.0

Country

Japan

Director

Isao Takahata

Actors

Chie Kitagawa, Ichirō Nagai, Issey Takahashi, Masahiro Ito

Moods

Heart-warming, Lovely, Slice-of-Life

This beautiful, realistic, and nostalgic anime movie about childhood is one that almost anyone can relate to. Set in the year of 1982, twenty-seven-year-old Taeko Okajima is traveling to the countryside by train. Along her journey, she gets flashbacks of her childhood: mostly in elementary school, stealing glances at a boy, and navigating puberty. The movie goes back and forth between past and present, easily making one long for sun-filled summers of yesteryear and silly jokes between playfriends. As well as telling a story about Taeko’s past, Only Yesterday also tells a story about her present, and the combined realism of the plotline with the beautiful animation grips you and doesn’t let go. Only Yesterday truly feels like home.

14. Asako I & II (2018)

best

8.0

Country

Japan

Director

Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Actors

Ariei Umefune, Atsushi Kaneshige, Daichi Watanabe, Erika Karata

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Romantic

Asako is in love with Baku—deeply and almost delusionally, in a way that can only manifest in young love. But when the freewheeling Baku ghosts Asako for good, she moves from Osaka all the way to Tokyo to start a new life. Years later, she’s startled to meet Baku’s doppelganger in Ryohei, an office man whose solid dependability and lack of artfulness, while endearing, could not place him any further from Baku. Confused and lonely, Asako tiptoes around her feelings for Ryohei and, in the process, raises thought-provoking questions about the meaning, ethics, and true purpose of love.

 

15. People Places Things (2015)

7.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Jim Strouse

Actors

Aundrea Gadsby, Celia Au, Derrick Arthur, Dionne Audain

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Grown-up Comedy

«When comedians get a bit older they do a movie with “emotions” in it. Here’s mine.» Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement on Twitter. People Places Things is exactly that, a funny yet heartfelt comedy. Will Henry, A New York City graphic novelist walks in on his girlfriend cheating on him at their kids’ birthday party. A year later, Will is struggling to define his new life as a single parent while still getting over his breakup. Smart, honest, and led by Jemaine Clement, this film will strike you in its simplicity but will hold you with its charm.

16. The Watermelon Woman (1996)

7.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Cheryl Dunye, Female director

Actors

Brian Freeman, Camille Paglia, Cheryl Clarke, Cheryl Dunye

Moods

Funny, Grown-up Comedy, Slice-of-Life

This drama was the first feature written and directed by an out Black lesbian, Cheryl Dunye, and it is an absolute joy: a cheeky faux-documentary that ingeniously blends lesbian dating life with a historical dive into Black actors in 30s Hollywood.

Dunye plays Cheryl, a self-effacing version of herself, an aspiring director working at a video store who begins to research an actress known as the Watermelon Woman for a documentary. The more Cheryl dives into her research, the more she sees parallels between her subject and her own relationship. 

As incisive as it is funny, The Watermelon Woman shares some common ground with other major indie debuts of the era like Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and funnily enough Kevin Smith’s Clerks, but Dunye’s style is wholly her own and a dazzling treat to experience.

 

17. The King of Staten Island (2020)

7.8

Country

United States Japan, United States of America

Director

Judd Apatow

Actors

Action Bronson, Alexis Rae Forlenza, Anthony Lee Medina, Bel Powley

Moods

Character-driven, Emotional, Grown-up Comedy

If you’ve seen his stand-up, you’ll know that Pete Davidson likes to make fun of himself. But it’s also true that Davidson is honest. He speaks openly about his childhood traumas and mental health struggles, and this film about his life is no different than his live performances. It’s darkly funny and deeply personal, this time plumbing new depths of his life with the help of director (and patron saint of comedians) Judd Apatow. 

Here, Apatow allows Davidson to hell his story in his own irreverent flavor, all while boosting him with directorial flair and his trademark balance of humor and humanity. A triumphant collaboration between Apatow and Davidson, King of Staten Island is rich with nuanced performances and relatable insights into the life of someone slowly but surely healing from pain and coming into his own. 

18. Taipei Story (1985)

7.8

Country

Taiwan

Director

Edward Yang

Actors

Chen Shu-fang, Chin Tsai, Cynthia Khan, Grace Chen Shu-Fang

Moods

Depressing, Slice-of-Life, Thought-provoking

Slow and almost silent, Edward Yang’s second feature film pins us down in a fast-moving city. In 1980s Taipei, Chin and Lung are childhood sweethearts who try to build a life together, but differences between their wants threaten to pull them apart. Chin bravely adapts to the changes she faces—moving house, shifting jobs, etc.—while Lung misses his promising baseball career and prioritizes familial debt. Through their relationship, the film captures the anxieties of a generation pulled between new Western consumerism and old Asian familial obligations. Watching the two lovers feels like being lost in a cold urban city, unable to move and not knowing where to go.

19. Frances Ha (2013)

7.7

Country

Brazil, United States of America

Director

Noah Baumbach

Actors

Adam Driver, Britta Phillips, Charlotte d'Amboise, Christine Gerwig

Moods

Easy, Funny, Grown-up Comedy

Frances (Greta Gerwig) lives in New York – but not the glamorous NYC of Woody Allen movies. Taking place primarily in the gritty and rapidly gentrifying North Brooklyn, the black and white film paints a picture of an extended adolescence. Focusing on the goofy and carefree Frances, who loses her boyfriend, her best friend and her dream of being a dancer. She moves in with two guys, both of whom are more successful than her, and becomes even more determined to fulfil her goals, impractical as they may be. Fans of HBO’s Girls and other odes to not being a “real person” yet will love this film.

20. Shortcomings (2023)

7.6

Country

Canada, United States of America

Director

Randall Park

Actors

Adam Enright, Adrian Tomine, Ally Maki, Boran Anh

Moods

Easy, Grown-up Comedy, Romantic

It’s always tricky translating literature to screen. In Shortcomings’ case, it struggles to make its Berkeley and New York settings appear more lived-in than just a few postcard-like frames. You could also tell that the conversations it stirs up about things like representation and mixed-race relationships began in the early aughts, when the novel it was adapted from was first released. But those lapses are small and forgivable in the face of a lovely ensemble cast and a whipsmart script.

It also takes a special kind of skill to make a character as fiercely unlikeable as Ben (Min) watchable, to hold up a mirror to the audience and make them stay. Thankfully, it’s a skill that Tomine and first-time director Randall Park display with such grace. Ben, Alice (Sherry Cola), and Miko (Ally Maki) are flawed and often pathetic, but they’re also honest reflections of who we become when the demands of self-preservation and romantic openness clash. It’s a little unnerving to hear them verbalize what we’ve always feared about ourselves, but it’s also exhilarating, not to mention comforting, knowing that we’re not alone in feeling this way. Shortcomings works because it doesn’t confine itself to genre: it’s a character study first, and a romantic comedy second.

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