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12 Movies like Malena: Sexual Awakening
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12 Movies like Malena: Sexual Awakening

Broken Innocence 

Growing up is a big deal. Not because you learn how to behave in public or be part of the well-oiled machine that is our society. No, not even close. Growing up is about discovering the end of innocence and all the contradicting feelings that come with it; feelings of melancholia and excitement, of loneliness and pleasure. Feelings of passion and anger.

In Malena, a beautiful woman (Monica Bellucci) is provoking a sexual awakening in a group of boys. And in the following movies like Malena our young protagonists are experiencing their own sexual awakening as they understand that time can only move in one direction – forward.


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Movies Similar to ‘Malena’…

‘The Reader’ (Stephen Daldry, 2008)

It is usually common for movies exploring the sexual awakening of teenage boys to pair them with older, more mature women.

This is also the case in The Reader. Michael Berg is a 15 year old boy who falls in love with the 36 year old Hanna.

An outstanding performance by Kate Winslet and quite a complex storyline, as the young boy will re-encounter his lost love about a decade later to defend her in the court of justice.

Like ‘Malena’, ‘The Reader’ explores the sexual feelings of a small boy towards a much older woman.

‘In the Heat of the Sun’ (Wen Jiang, 1994)

Ma Xiaojun is a young boy with a very peculiar hobby. Bored to death by school, he made a master key which he used to sneak into other houses.

One such attempt went abruptly wrong when Mi Lan, the resident of his latest break in, came home early. Hidden under the bed, Ma saw the young girl changing and fell in love with her.

A great movie full of precious memories built under the sun.

This is an incredible story, which like ‘Malena’, is a testament to the power of youth and the struggles of a generation.

‘Y Tu Mamá También’ (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001)

Sex is a vital part of our existence. It provides not only our means for reproduction, but also a way to alleviate our stress, produce serotonin, and generally feel good. It has that spiritual trait that can only be found if sex is combined with a journey of self-discovery.

Teenagers Tenoch Iturbide and Julio Zapata are on such a journey with an attractive older woman, even if they don’t know it – yet.

A journey of life. A lesson about ourselves, our sexuality and our deepest desires. Like ‘Malena’, this movie is about the joys and pains of being alive.

‘Malizia’ (Salvatore Samperi, 1973)

Laura Antonelli plays the role of Angela, a beautiful and captivating maid who is employed by a widower and father of three sons.

Her charms are so mesmerizing and her body so desired that all the men in the house are trying to find a way to approach her.

This is a film about a kind of adolescent metamorphose with a few beautiful scenes and an all-round atmosphere of seduction.

A more erotic film than ‘Malena’, both are exploring the impulses of teenage boys.

‘All Things Fair’ (Bo Widerberg, 1995)

World War II seems to be a favorite setting for movies about sexual awakenings. All Things Fair is a Swedish film directed by Bo Widerberg. It tells the story of the sexual relationship between a teacher and her fifteen year old student. An unusual arrangement that at times feels very natural and believable.

As in all sexual awakening films with the same motive, the young protagonists in both movies are enthralled by the beauty and maturity of an older woman.

‘Little Children’ (Todd Field, 2006)

This is a story of a ‘Madame Bovary’ type of sexual awakening.

Sarah and Ronnie feel trapped in their sexless marriages. Sarah’s husband is an asexual but quite successful career seeker while Ronnie is supported financially by his wife, a coldhearted documentary director.

In each other they find a way out of their dull lives.

A different take on the sexual awakening theme. ‘Little Children’ is praised for its realistic views.

‘An Education’ (Lone Scherfig, 2009)

In the early 1960’s, Jenny Mellor is a sixteen year old girl living in the London suburb of Twichenham. Her sole purpose in life is to be the good girl her father wants her to be and earn her admission in Oxford University. Until one day she meets David Goldman, a man twice her age who will be the instrument of her own sexual awakening.

With so many ‘young boys and older women’ stories, ‘An Education’ is the same story with a swap of genders.

‘Get Out Your Handkerchiefs’ (Bertrand Blier, 1978)

Poor Solange. She must be facing some kind of depression because she doesn’t seem to be in the mood to smile, eat, or say anything. Her life is slipping right before her eyes and her husband, Raoul, believes that the only cure is for her to have an affair. He finds Stephane but he fails to cheer her up. They try everything to no avail until one day, at the kids’ summer camp they run together, they meet Christian, a 13 year old that is going to be the remedy they desperately seek.

This movie is going a step further than ‘Malena’ into exploring the kind of relationship that can spring out of the cheerfulness of youth and the dullness of adulthood.

‘What Every Frenchwoman Wants’ (Gianfranco Mingozzi, 1986)

Little Roger is in luck. The men are off to fight in the Great War and the women in his little town are desperate for some companionship. And what is the closest thing they have to a man? A teenage boy; Roger. Hurray!

A softcore erotic drama about a young boy and his adventures with older women. Kind like ‘Malena’ in its more pornographic version.

‘Private Lessons’ (Alan Myerson, 1981)

What is it with teenagers and their preoccupation with sex? Damn genes.

One of these sex-crazed teens is Philip Filmore, a naïve and horny teenage boy who falls for the new French housekeeper (French + maid: recipe for success). The seductive maid is going to use little Philip in her evil plan to drain Philip’s trust fund. Sex is power.

Not as artistic as ‘Malena’, and clearly not as deep in its storyline and cinematography. An interesting view, nevertheless; if only for the fun of it.


If You Like ‘Malena’, You Will Like…

Malena is a great movie and not only for its engaging story.

It takes place in Sicily and in particular it was filmed in the towns of Syracuse and Noto. Making the most of the surroundings, the action is set against some of the most stunning backgrounds and tries to depict some of the Sicilian society and everyday life of that era. There are many films similar to Malena, which try to show more of Sicily and its culture.

‘Cinema Paradiso’ (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)

A famous film director returns home to Sicily after thirty long years and he is reminded of his first love, who he lost shortly before leaving to find his luck in the capital. The classic piazza you see throughout the movies can be found in the town of Palazzo Adriano close to Palermo. The quite famous evening scene at the harbour is at the city of Cefalu, also in the Palermo province.

If you want to experience a postcard-like Sicily, this is the movie you want to see.

‘Il Postino’ (Michael Radford, 1994)

An Italian postman named Mario is delivering mail to a famous poet (Pablo Neruda). A man in love, he tries to learn about poetry in order to court his love interest, Beatrice.

Part of the movie was filmed on the Sicilian island of Salina and the famous beach of Pollara.

In ‘Il Postino’ as in ‘Malena’ we witness a beautiful Sicily, not easily described in words. A work of poetic scenery.


I Feel a Tiny Tingle…

Growing up is a big deal. But it is not the life changing moment we want it to be. There is no turning point from which we become adults from children, mature from immature. But there is a point in which we realize that there is a part of us that will be lost forever and will never come back. And that’s ok. There are many other movies like Growing up is a big deal. But it is not the life changing moment we want it to be. There are many other movies like Malena out there.


Hey there! I′m Thanasis, a writer and lover of stories who was educated to be a teacher of English. I spend my time between worlds and inside pages; written or otherwise. I roam the endless void called The Internet in a constant quest to discover pieces of great storytelling in every artistic medium imaginable.

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