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The Best Films of 2024 So Far

While so many people seem increasingly, almost obsessively concerned with how much money certain films are (or are not) making, it feels like the art conversation has been degraded this year. It's a shame, because 2024 has been remarkably strong for the cinematic form. In fact, it’s been such a good year so far that we wanted to do a halftime check-in, assembling a list of 20 of our regular film critics' most cited favorites. 

We’ll save the ranking for the end of the year, when you’ll likely be reading about a few of these flicks again. Still, hopefully this feature can help you catch up before the fall film schedule and inevitable awards season chatter allow us to forget what really matters. It’s not the money, it’s the movies. And here are 20 great ones.

The Beast

With COVID project “Coma” having turned Bonello’s gaze inward, he has reached further inside himself than ever, further even than the semi-autobiographical likes of “The Pornographer” and “Saint Laurent” allowed him to go. Léa Seydoux's body is his mind, pressed and corseted and hounded and hunted, while he himself chases the fumes of past expeditions into nothingness. 

The signature shades of David Lynch and Henry James are left like paint on the surface of a pool; we must sink below them to discover what he’s searching for beneath the obvious references to LA surrealism, school shooters, and climate change. That identity is a performance; that romance is implanted like the Manchurian Candidate’s code phrase; that fulfillment has always been controlled by paymasters; that art may seem the emergency exit from blind alleys, but it is just a primal scream in designer clothes. 

Yet those surface pleasures are so stately and true that the terror is effectively caged. Gorgeous costuming and precise sound design, and Seydoux trusted to uphold more than a century of performative social cues as the clothes change, but the attitudes refuse to budge. She’s anchor and angel, Bonello’s easy answer to Leos Carax’s Denis Lavant, fearlessly physical, wonderfully inscrutable, and she wears the film like a scarf around her neck. - Scout Tafoya


In case you haven’t gotten the memo yet: tennis is an extremely erotic sport, alright? But how could it not be in the hands of the “Call Me by Your Name” and “A Bigger Splash” writer/director Luca Guadagnino, one of the most sensual filmmakers working today? Throughout his kinetic “Challengers” that aims straight at your five senses, the Italian filmmaker puts the ridiculously good-looking threesome of Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, and Mike Faist (all portraying gifted racket wielders) at the center of a string of high-stakes tennis matches that take only two but feels sorely incomplete without the third.

And so each of these unofficial love triangle corners muscle their way inside their unique coterie of frenemies on and off the court within an inventive narrative structure that sprouts flashbacks within flashbacks. As “Challengers” untangles the trio’s long-standing desires for and grudges against each other as partners and rivals, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ techno beats (in one of the best original soundtracks of this decade) escalate the impact of each sweaty drop and grunt, as balls dangerously take flight and land with a thud.

By the end of the movie, it’s truly shocking how invested we feel in the impossible union of this unholy trinity. Honestly? The whole thing smells like sex, and we love Guadagnino for it. - Tomris Laffly

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World

Radu Jude’s sense of humor comes with a bitter, unforgettable aftertaste. At first, his latest comedy feels like an apathetic lark, a study of the insignificance of the roles we play in this increasingly fractured world. Watching the put-upon production assistant Angela (Ilinca Manolache) scramble to create a work safety video as she scrambles around Bucharest leads to moments of undeniable humor, especially in the unmasking of her toxic internet personality. Still, the way the film inverts that set-up in its second half gives Jude’s work such power. 

All of this planning and coordinating transitions to the actual video shoot itself, wherein it becomes clear that the video is more of a way to partake in a practice that happens worldwide as companies shift blame to those that society should be doing more to protect. So much of life, including the TikTok videos we ingest, can feel shallow and forgettable, but all of this slowly adds up to something that lands like a punch. Maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from the end of the world because we’ve been too distracted to notice we’re already in it. - Brian Tallerico

Dune: Part Two

Howard Hawks once said that a great movie consists of three great scenes and no bad ones. "Dune: Part Two" is surely a great movie by that yardstick (my picks for the three great scenes are Paul's first ride on a sandworm, the arena scene on Geidi Prime that establishes the thread of Feyd-Rautha, and Paul defeating the Sardaukar with nuclear weapons and sandworms) but it's ultimately more than that. After an early career focus on arthouse dramas, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve segued into Hollywood action with a psychological dimension and has proven himself a master of spectacle in a series of adult science fiction epics, including "Arrival," "Blade Runner 2049" and "Dune: Part One," featuring such clean storytelling, study characterizations and richly detailed worlds that they reward repeat viewings. Like its predecessor, but even more so, "Dune: Part Two" channels David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" (which might've partly inspired "Dune" creator Frank Hebert in the first place), and like Lean's classic, it's a monumental visceral experience, a thing that happens to you as you watch it. - Matt Zoller Seitz

Evil Does Not Exist

The final shot in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ecological drama “Evil Does Not Exist” is perplexing. It is pure sound, soundtracked by the rapid breathing of a frightened father. One might consider it opaque: we can only guess the fates of these characters in a conclusion where the symbolism isn’t immediately apparent. Hamaguchi has also distilled each element, picture and sound, down to their essence in a film enamored with  the unadorned, the simple, and the natural.

With his young daughter Hana (Ryo Nishikawa), the handyman Takumi (Hitoshi Omika) lives in the small secluded Japanese town of Mizubiki. Two representatives -- hired actors, really -- have arrived in town to sell the prospects of a corporation building a glamping site. They tell the villagers of the financial benefits they’ll receive only to be rebuffed by fears of what this site and the outsiders it’ll bring will do to the forest and the town’s precious stream. Takumi becomes an intermediary between the town and these representatives, who, despite their outward attentiveness, care as little for the town as the craven industrialists.

Such an intimate, seemingly less ambitious work is surprising for Hamaguchi following the success of “Drive My Car” and “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.” This isn’t a three-hour mood piece or a sprawling omnibus. But when a filmmaker zigs, when everyone wants them to zag, that’s when you sense the real character of the artist. In the quiet surroundings of “Evil Does Not Exist,” Hamaguchi crafts his most imperative work yet—one that says as much about our lethal relationship with corporations and our disrespect of nature as it does the contents of our souls. - Robert Daniels

The First Omen

“The First Omen” is Arkasha Stevenson’s debut and a magic show of purposeful camera theatrics. Nell Tiger Free – whom the film suggests could be the next Isabelle Adjani though she carries as much of Huppert’s flinty exasperation in her tight jaw and unblinking eyes – is a novitiate tasked with giving Christians something to fear and audiences someone to enjoy being castigated. Suitably for a Rome-set thriller in the early ‘70s, Stevenson seems to be taking cues from Luigi Bazzoni, whose nightmarish conspiracy thrillers had a similar footfall, visual clarity and psychological murkiness. The clearer things become, the more insane our heroine feels. Drifting down corridors towards fate unknown, lusty things with ill intent and smiling benevolent faces leading you to Miltonian abnormality. With every carefully choreographed movement we’re told that Free’s grimy, sweaty, bloody journey was just as meticulously orchestrated from without. How could such monstrosity have a human face? How could what was, on paper, a shameless cash-in prequel become the best directed American film of the year? The devil works in mysterious ways. -Scout Tafoya

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

At the Cannes press conference for his 2008 biographical epic “Che,” the director Steven Soderbergh let off a little steam about the critical reaction to his picture, “I find it hilarious that people always complain about movies being the same, and then when something different comes along — a film that deals the cards in a different way — they say why isn’t it more conventional?” I thought of this when some assessors of “Furiosa” complained that it didn’t end with a spectacular car chase — the biggest action set piece, which, make no mistake, is as much as if not more than a doozy than anything in director George Miller’s last apocalyptic masterwork, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” is in the middle of the picture — and that it suffered from not having Max himself in the mix, and whatever. The thing about Miller, though, is even when he’s working in worlds that he constructed himself, revisiting landscapes and characters, he doesn’t repeat himself.

“Furiosa” isn’t a “girl boss” story — the title character derives pretty much zero gratification from the power she eventually seizes. It’s a story of revenge as justice, and it’s gritty and nasty in ways that even the gnarliest prior “Max” pictures don’t touch. Are you curious how Charlize Theron’s “Fury Road” character lost that arm? Playing her younger incarnation, Anya-Taylor Joy shows you. It’s a real “ouch” moment. The kinky grotesquerie against which her character must eventually triumph sometimes makes this feel like the world’s most expensive Ozploitation film. That’s a good thing, as are the Sergio Leone echoes in the movie’s finale. - Glenn Kenny


You’ve heard the phrases: “Creativity takes courage.” (Henri Matisse) “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” (Oscar Wilde) “Movies are like a machine that generates empathy.” (Roger Ebert)

It’s hard to name another film this year—or any year—that gets to the heart of all these phrases and then some. Indeed, the “Saint Frances” filmmaking duo Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson deliver something so rare and delicate with “Ghostlight” that you might just run to your closest community theater and join their next production upon seeing their gem, just for the sake of creating art as a means to navigate your own troubles. The story is of a family—played by the real-life family of Keith Kupferer, Katherine Mallen Kupferer, and Tara Mallen—on the heels of a recent tragedy that the film reveals gradually. To fill the void of his unemployment and perhaps to steer his explosive emotions, papa Kupferer’s Dan joins a local community’s upcoming staging of Romeo & Juliet, slowly realizing that art and life can be one and the same.

A beautiful statement on the healing powers of an artistic community, a gentle inquiry into the old-fashioned shades of masculinity, and an enduring study of forgiveness, “Ghostlight” shines bright with familial love. Bring tissues. – Tomris Laffly

“Green Border”

Watching this engrossing and often harrowing film for the first time last year in Venice, I was sometimes reminded of a long-ago film by one of Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s forebears and colleagues, Andrzej Wajda. (Holland began her career assistant directing for the older Wajda as it happens.) The Wajda film is “Kanal,” a bleak and relentless story of Polish resistance fighters trying to escape encroaching Nazis through the sewers of Warsaw. In “Green Border,” the parties we’re meant to identify with are refugee migrants who’ve been rooked. Promised safe passage to Poland by a Belarus dictator, family groups are in fact rebuffed at the country’s border and ping-pong between territories, invariably ending up in a forest with almost no supplies and dwindling hope. 

Just as the heroes of “Kanal” have no way of knowing what’s happening above them and just where they’ll find safety, these poor folks are in a state of private suspended animation. What happens over the course of two and a half hours of gorgeously shot and acutely edited black-and-white is suspenseful, sometimes excruciatingly so. Throughout, you feel the filmmaker’s indignant exasperation with her country’s government and some of her fellow citizens. Which makes the movie’s ending, which actually holds out some concrete hope for the situation, a bit surprising and monumentally moving. – Glenn Kenny

Hit Man

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that Richard Linklater’s latest, loosely inspired by the true story of a college professor moonlighting for the police as a fake assassin for sting operations, is a winner. But even his biggest fans may be startled by how good this one is. Taking a premise that might have been deployed for a mid-level Adam Sandler project, he gives us something smart, crafty, thought-provoking, seriously sexy (thanks to the off-the-charts chemistry between co-stars Glen Powell and Adria Arjuna), and always surprising. (The already-celebrated sequence involving the clever usage of the iPhone Notes app moves so brilliantly between suspense and humor that I now want to see Linklater tackle a full-on Hitchcock-style project at some point.)

The only drawback is that since there is allegedly no market for the kind of mid-budget, adult-oriented, non-IP filmmaking that used to flourish once upon a time (it is probably the closest to something like “Bull Durham” that we are likely to see anytime soon), a film that would clearly play like gangbusters in a theater with a big and appreciative crowd has been instead relegated to Netflix. That said, the film’s charms are so pervasive that not even the scaled-down dimensions of the typical home viewing experience can keep them down. – Peter Sobczynski

How to Have Sex

When I first saw British writer/director Molly Manning Walker's debut feature film “How To Have Sex,” I was unprepared for the visceral reaction the film would evoke. From several interviews the filmmaker has given about how many audience members had similar responses, neither did the filmmaker. Inspired by Walker's own experience with sexual assault, the film taps into feelings of unease around first-time sexual experiences that, due to a variety of factors, are tainted by trauma, feelings that have, unfortunately, proven to be universal for a lot of young women.

Breakout star Mia McKenna-Bruce gives a revelatory performance as Tara, a firecracker of a young woman who is determined to lose her virginity while on a post-graduation holiday in Crete with her best friends Skye (Lara Peake) and Em (Enva Lewis). Petty jealousies and insecurities arise between the girls as the booze flows, and flirtations abound when the group befriends the neighboring boys at their resort, including the soulful Badger (Shaun Thomas) and the boisterous Paddy (Samuel Bottomley).

As the weekend progresses, pressures mount, feelings are hurt, and lines of consent are crossed. Walker worked in lockstep with cinematographer Nicolas Canniccioni to root the film in Tara's perspective, which, along with McKenna-Bruce's expressive eyes, forces the audience to feel as though they're going through the same rollercoaster of confusing emotions as she does. The film leaves us, and Tara, in a bit of a daze but offers a ray of hope through its staunch belief in the restorative power of female friendships and the resilience that lives deep inside all of us. – Marya E. Gates

I Saw the TV Glow

The malevolence of Mr. Melancholy, the moon-faced antagonist in “The Pink Opaque,” a TV show that entrances ostracized teens Owen (Justice Smith) and Maddie (Brigette Lundy-Paine), resides in his power to blur the truth and rid his adversaries of their inner strength. Mr. Melancholy, a final boss in this monster-of-the-week realm, embodies the inner turmoil that plagues characters in Jane Schoenbrun’s neon-coated, musically rich, ‘90s-set masterpiece. This unequivocally trans allegory contends with the suffocating artificiality of suburban life, of the soul-corroding fake smiles in spaces where a façade of normalcy is cultivated at the expense of those who don’t fit within its rigid archetypes. In trying to mold himself to his environment, Owen betrays himself. There’s a lifeline in the episodes Maddie records onto VHS tapes for him, but eventually, living vicariously through fiction won’t suffice.

Much has been said about whether the final moments in “I Saw the TV Glow” read bleak, even if Schoenbrun believes them to be hopeful in a “darkest before the dawn” manner. That hope is in the messages written in chalk on the street and not on those plastered on the walls of their high school, in the hope that a TV show can reveal something neither of them can yet speak into concrete words. It’s in the wish that the unbearable pain that tortures them can give way to a rebirth of the self.

One of the most audacious American works of the decade, in both style and substance, Schoenbrun’s latest at once breaks new ground and reaches for timelessness as a cinematic text to be dissected for years to come. – Carlos Aguilar

In a Violent Nature

At a lethargic but resolute pace, Johnny (Ry Barrett), once human but now zombie-like, trudges through a dense Canadian forest with the sole purpose of massacring the young people who desecrated his “resting place.” Those long stretches of contemplative wandering, with the camera following from behind, precede the inventive kills in Chris Nash’s effective subversion of slasher film tropes. Rather than spending time with the victims before their final moments, we patiently witness the killer’s trajectory from one murder scene to the next. Only the sounds of nature accompany Johnny’s stride. These choices force the audience into a new dynamic, one still ripe with tension, but also space to ponder our relationship to these types of horror tales. Are we willing to find justification for Johnny’s acts now that see him as a protagonist with a clear goal as a result of an offense? Or is that us projecting our need for logic onto a character that acts on instinct?

For all its deviations from similar narratives, “In a Violent Nature” is not without thrills. Nash conjures up unthinkable, gasp-inducing ways for Johnny to disremember bodies, a significant feat in a subgenre where one could assume every modality of carnage has already been put on screen. And just when one thinks that the reinvention has given way to a more traditional resolution, the final sequence further toys with what we’ve come to expect from the journey of the final girl and brilliantly denies us the ultimate catharsis. – Carlos Aguilar

Inside Out 2

I cried and laughed within the first ten minutes of “Inside Out 2,” an adorable, heartwarming and fully up-to-the-original sequel to the beloved story of Riley and her middle school emotions. In addition to the colorful, endearing characters and witty screenplay of the first film, there is the kind of reassuring insight it could take years of therapy to discover. What they learn, so we do, too, is that what may feel like disturbing or negative emotions are necessary to keep us safe and help us understand the world around us.

Writers Kelsey Mann, Meg LeFauve, and Dave Holstein worked closely with developmental psychology experts and even more important experts, teenage girls, to ensure they understood the role that anxiety, envy, embarrassment, and ennui/boredom play in adolescence. But the brilliance of making these abstract and subjective emotions real and palpable is all Pixar at its best. As a former snarky teenager, I especially appreciated how sarcasm, a hallmark of that age, was visualized as a real chasm, with characters on one side trying to communicate genuine compliments that transmit as derision as they cross the divide. Anxiety, portrayed with endearingly positive energy by Maya Hawke, arrives weighed down by her baggage. Memory, buried secrets, beliefs, sense of self are all brilliantly imagined. The emotion characters zoom in on Riley’s friends’ faces to decipher their expressions, the kinds of details a younger person could overlook. I look forward to laughing and crying through it again. – Nell Minow

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

I have watched many films since this time last year, when, at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, a film so startling in its visual assuredness, bearing a deep sense of longing and regret, froze me where I sat. It is a ruminative piece that, coincidentally, travels beyond the body into dreams and memories. It begins when Thiện (Lê Phong Vũ) witnesses the death of his sister-in-law in a motorcycle crash that renders her son Doa (Nguyễn Thịnh) the lone survivor. Thiện ventures back to his tiny village with Dao and her body, ostensibly to bury her, but in reality to search for his long-lost brother. 

The director of this film crafts a three-hour journey that reopens the scars of war and ignites love’s angst and the ecstasy of religion, enveloping the viewer in a sonorous jungle where very little light seems to enter. The camera moves through this meditative space with the style of Michelangelo Antonioni and the observationalism of Robert Bresson until it lands, with Thien, peacefully in a stream. A frightening unguardedness was required to make this picture, the kind that overwhelmed me. Since KVIFF, my world has spun again. And I have watched many films. But none have affected me like Pham Thien An’s spiritual feature debut: “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell.” – Robert Daniels

Love Lies Bleeding

A woman’s strength depicted in cinema is often in reference to resilience, care, and perseverance: the force of their spirits. Rose Glass leaves no room for interpretation in “Love Lies Bleeding” when she demands we bear witness to the brawn of women in all its sexy consequence and delicious chaos.

Lou (Kristen Stewart) is a keep-to-her-self gym manager in the kind of town you only pass through, and this is exactly what bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O’Brien) is doing. Fueled by ambition to win a bodybuilding competition in Vegas, Jackie stops through to sleep, train, and make a little money to help her on her way. When they encounter each other at the gym, a meet-cute by the weights evolves into a feverish, hair-trigger love affair that collides with the criminal underworld by way of Lou’s father (Ed Harris). With his menacing criminal calm bashing heads against Jackie’s roid rage and Lou’s anxious and sporadic decision-making, “Love Lies Bleeding” is an action-packed fever dream with all the markers of a cult classic noir, money, sex, and violence, done the Rose Glass way.

The film pulses with her signature grittiness as it picks apart the feeling of love and infatuation with burst veins of blood and pulp. O’Brian is a showstopper in her breakthrough role, reinventing the femme fatale not as a seductively sinister master manipulator but as the juiced up, She-Hulk defender of true love. Stewart, proving again to be one of her generation's most versatile, compelling actresses, invites her comedic chops to play into the story’s desperation. As the film’s grounding heart between Harris’s psychopathy and O’Brien’s bouts of psychosis, Lou simply wishes for comfortable love with Jackie, for her abused sister (Jena Malone), and for herself as she looks for closure in her mother’s death. “Love Lies Bleeding” juggles a lot thematically but does so with seamless expertise and exalting gnarly action. Though you can feel nods to road films like “Thelma & Louise” or high stakes impacts between drifters, love, and crime like “True Romance,” Rose Glass has crafted a film all her own, unlike anything I’ve seen before, and one that will certainly earn cult classic status. – Peyton Robinson

“The People’s Joker”

The words "singular" and "visionary" are probably used to describe films and filmmakers more often than is warranted, but if any film this year deserves those monikers, it would be writer-director-editor-star Vera Drew's fair-use superhero parody "The People's Joker." After several years of playing film festivals and a prolonged legal battle with the keepers of I.P., Drew's autobiographical phantasmagoric coming-of-age odyssey finally hit theaters this spring.

Drew plays the titular Joker, aka Joker the Harlequin, aka Vera, a trans woman and aspiring clown who has been grappling with her gender identity and depression since her childhood despite being prescribed Smylex, a drug that forces you to put on a happy face. After moving from Smallville, Kansas, to Gotham City to pursue her dream of joining the cast of UCB Live (an SNL-like sketch comedy show), she instead forms an anti-comedy troupe with a friend, battles a bad romance with an emotionally abusive trans Marxist Joker, and eventually faces off with the caped crusader himself.

Made on a micro-budget, Drew crowdsourced more than 100 artists from around the world to help develop the film's many memorable backdrops and unforgettable animated sequences. The result gives the film a handmade feel that harkens back to the D.I.Y. films of the 1990s. Drew also proves that, given absolute creative freedom, a film based on I.P. can tell a truly personal story with universal themes in a unique and uncompromising way. – Marya E. Gates

Ryuichi Sakamoto Opus”

Why aren’t there awards for the best on-camera actors in documentaries? “Ryuichi Sakamoto Opus,” a lyrical, transporting black-and-white concert documentary, showcases the most captivating performance of the year. Sakamoto, the synth pioneer and acclaimed movie composer, performs 20 songs that span his celebrated career. The setlist not only stands out for its range but for its seamless progression, flowing from an early Yellow Magic Orchestra piece (“Tong Poo”) to music from Peter Kominsky’s 1992 “Wuthering Heights” adaptation.

Sakamoto, who had been fighting cancer for about a decade, delivers an indelible performance that only resonates partly given his recent passing. “Ryuichi Sakamoto Opus” was not designed to be a final movie any more than his other retrospective projects, like the similarly arranged “Playing the Piano 12122020” (2021) or “1996.”

Instead, “Ryuichi Sakamoto Opus” stands out, given the rapt attention that director Neo Sora, Sakamoto’s son, pays to Sakamoto’s performance. Slight winces at imperfect playing—if only in Sakamoto’s eyes—compliment and deepen one’s appreciation for what might have otherwise sounded like a dynamic, smooth-sounding recording.

An improvised passage in “Bibo No Aozora” compliments and enhances one’s appreciation for the relative simplicity of the next song Sakamoto plays, “Aqua,” a 1998 piece whose popularity contrasts with the theme for “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” a standard that Sakamoto had previously fallen out of love with. “Ryuichi Sakamoto Opus” shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a final testament but celebrated as an uncanny expression of Sakamoto’s musical project. – Simon Abrams


If you’re lucky, you spent your childhood thinking your grandmother was a superhero. First-time filmmaker Josh Margolin evidently thought so, too, so he spun his real-life relationship with his grandma into “Thelma,” a wry, poignant action comedy that gives a ninetysomething June Squibb the chance to play at being Ethan Hunt. A phishing scam sends Thelma on a quest to retrieve her money and, in some ways, a sense of late-in-life autonomy; with the aid of fellow widower Ben (Richard Roundtree, in a gentle final role) and his trusty scooter, she aims to do just that. Squibb cracks wise as easily as Thelma cracks her hips with each suspenseful bed roll, and Margolin delights in deploying the swirling camerawork and thumping scoring of action films to lend each hunt-and-pecked password all the tension of disarming a nuclear bomb.

More than that, all this scrappy energy serves a universal story about everyone’s fear of aging beyond their ability. “I never planned on getting this old,” Thelma tells her grandson (a delightful Fred Hechinger); the two, regardless of age, bristle against feelings of obsolescence. But Squibb and Margolin ably prove that there’s still life in the old girl in one of the year’s most delightful surprises. – Clint Worthington

We Grown Now

Chicagoan Minhal Baig’s coming-of-age film is like an emotional time machine. Plenty of filmmakers are adept at recreating period detail, but they often lose the human element by focusing so much on production design, costumes, and needle drops. “We Grown Now” hums with feeling instead of the cold, calculated precision that has derailed so many similar efforts. There’s heart, empathy, and depth of feeling in this film that has allowed it to linger. It plays so much like a heartfelt memory that’s where it stays for people who see it: in their hearts.

Sure, an important story is being told in “We Grown Now” about growing up and how adulthood can divide us, but the small, tender beats hold it together. It’s the way the light casts itself across a dinner table in a room in Cabrini-Green, the look in a mother’s eyes when she knows her son is being forced to grow up too soon, how the laughter of a child seems to echo in a different way. Baig’s film is a reminder that even a form as overdone as the coming-of-age drama can be powerful as long as it seeks truth instead of cliché. – Brian Tallerico

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