We’ve reached that midway point where Freshers’ Week and autumnal holidays are behind us, and even Reading Week can’t save us anymore. If you find no solace at University in these tough times, consider one of these films to cure your homesickness and remind you that there is a life beyond the pain of staying awake in lectures and the endless 3am pizza and chips.


Boyhood has a very special place in my heart, and is more widely considered a phenomenal film that should be commended for a number of reasons. The filming took place over twelve years, using the same actors to portray the actual growing up process of a young boy and his family. There is an authenticity to this film that just can’t be mimicked due to the innovative creative process and the risks undertaken by all those involved in the project. It’ll strike a chord with anyone of this age – out of boyhood but not quite into adulthood. With pop culture references and a genuine growing attachment to the characters, it’s mesmerizing. Relatable, honest and truly moving, Boyhood will cure any woe.

Big Fish

Tim Burton’s addition brings a bit more magic and a true form of cinematic exile to the list. The film tells the story of a young man reuniting and rediscovering his father, who is on his deathbed. The story goes back through the father’s life, telling a tale of ambition, fantastical dreams and love whilst depicting the more complicated side of family relations. Starring a young Ewan McGregor as the big fish in a small pond, this film takes a walk down the most exciting and inspiring memory lane, lifting spirits and honouring the strength of a paternal bond.

The Royal Tenenbaums

To be discussing family in film and to omit to mention Wes Anderson would be criminal. Featuring heavily in all of his films, the dilemma arises when faced with the decision of which film to honour when discussing the topic of the familial bond. The Royal Tenenbaums tells the story of a dysfunctional family, each member more eccentric than the next. We witness the falling ins and outs of a group of highly characterised and engaging personalities, with the usual Wes Anderson trademark humour, enigmatic cartoon-esque visuals and the likes of Ben Stiller, Gwenyth Paltrow and Gene Hackman to name but a few. Ferociously funny and denouncing at the same time, the film offers a reflection on loyalties and family life with a pinch of salt and infectious humour.


The only international pick of this list, but maybe the most heartwrenching and awe-inspiring film of them all. Directed by young Canadian mastermind Xavier Dolan, Mommy beautifully depicts a mother’s tumultuous relationship with her troublesome son. The film detains a timeless and uncontainable emotional power, managing somehow to marry Céline Dion and Oasis on its score, blowing all preconceptions on how relationships should be depicted completely out of the water. A kaleidoscope of emotions showing wounds at their rawest and intense love at its most painful, Mommy films your most difficult heartaches and creates an all-inclusive truly dizzying and multi-coloured universe that you can’t help but compare to your own.

Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s ode to family and existentialism is a good one to watch at all times to make you reconsider the bigger picture – and every picture you’ve ever considered, really. One of the film’s main strengths lies in its sheer aesthetic beauty, depicting humanity in an intimate and dreamlike fashion. The film’s characters interestingly represent family pillars but also seem to have bigger roles as standing forward for humanity as a whole – and rightly so when you consider that the leads are Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt.

Distracting and heartwarming, the film finds a balance between telling a family’s powerful story and asking bigger and far more philosophical questions, leaving the viewer feeling uplifted and incredibly inspired. If for no other reason, Tree of Life should be watched to gain introductory insight on one of the most conceptual and groundbreaking directors of our time.

Follow Ella Kemp on twitter: @Ella_Kemp