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The Best 'Tumblr Girl' Trope Movies On Netflix

Collider 11/28/2022 Eleanor Burnard
© Provided by Collider

Anyone who remembers the far past of the early 2010s is familiar with the social media mega-giant, Tumblr, and its influential hold across the internet via its devoted millennial and zoomer userbase. Circa 2014, however, was the golden age of a certain type of aesthetic that flourished within the aforementioned social media platform and was henceforth described as the 'Tumblr girl' aesthetic; Think of black-and-white photographs and Lana Del Rey lyrics messily attributed to every post, or pictures of outfits consisting of black stockings, Doc Marten boots, the iconic American Apparel white tennis skirt with a black turtleneck, and an oversized denim jacket, as well as the countless posts that were devoted to indie popstars like Marina and the Diamonds, The 1975, Halsey, and, of course, Lana Del Rey, just to name a few.

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Those who once spread their angsty poetry and photo collages of their favorite celebrities adorned with flower crowns can sit back and watch the films that helped to define and create the Tumblr girl trope, as well as movies that depict a clear reflection of that era's aesthetic. These films are all found on Netflix and are just as dreamy and melancholic as the navy-blue dashboard of years past.

'Passing' (2021)

Draped in stark black-and-white and brimming with effortless style, Passing is a quiet drama featuring the directorial debut of Rebecca Hall based on the 1929 novel by the same name, written by Nella Larsen, that examines the complexities of racial identity in 1920s America. It is led by actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga and told through the perspective of Thompson's character, and follows their conflicted relationship as well as the ethics of "passing."

Needless to say, it makes for a compelling watch due to the complex and dramatic dynamic brought forward by Thompson and Negga's electricity and is beautifully shot due to Hall's ability to focus on visual language and cinematography. She takes full advantage of the black-and-white color scheme, allowing shadows, mirrors, and dynamic lighting placements to further highlight the drama.

'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (2004)

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope can be considered a distant cousin and massive style inspiration to the Tumblr girl aesthetic, and Kate Winslet's character in the cult-classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a pioneer and an early example of it. Written by Charlie Kaufman and co-starring Jim Carey in one of his more toned-down performances, the film follows the strained relationship between Winslet's character and Carey's, who are used to represent the powerful complexities of human memory.

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It remains an introspective and surrealist masterpiece, portraying the universal pain of heartbreak and examining the psychology behind it through bizarre and beautiful visuals. Gifs of the tragic couple were easily found on Tumbr's dashboard, with it taking only a few scrolls on a pastel grunge blog to find posts of the fiery-red hair of Clementine Kruczynski, usually adorned with one of her sadder quotes and tagged with #me and #inspo.

'Lady Bird' (2017)

Teenage angst and mommy issues? Lady Bird is a film practically made for the veterans of Tumblr! This 2017 coming-of-age comedy-drama features the talents of Saorise Ronan in the titular role as well as Laurie Metcalf, Timothee Chalamet, and Beanie Feldstein, as well as Greta Gerwig behind the camera in her directorial debut.

It has been since lauded as a coming-of-age classic and an iconic addition to beloved teen drama cinema, due to its insightful and nuanced depiction of the struggles of teenage girlhood, motherhood, and the difficult relationships young women have with their mothers. Beautifully shot and an incredible directorial debut by Gerwig, if you are one of the unlucky few that have yet to watch this then you truly are missing out on experiencing an excellent movie.

'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' (2012)

The staple of post-grunge cinema and the posterchild of millennial teenage angst, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is another coming-of-age drama that first premiered in 2012, during the heyday of Tumblr's popularity.

It features Logan Lerman as the film's shy protagonist and Emma Watson in one of her first roles post-Harry Potter, as well as Ezra Miller before his shocking controversies from the recent few years. The film still holds up pretty well and perfectly captures the melancholic vibe so prevalent on Tumblr at that time. One of its more popular quotes became unbearably overused over time – you know the one.

'Do Revenge' (2022)

A beautiful pastel and camp teen-black-comedy reimagining of the classic Alfred Hitchcock story, Strangers on a Train, Do Revenge is adorned with all the cutesy aesthetic found on a pastel grunge blog of Tumblr's past, with enough pink, purple, and glittery outfits to satiate the heart of any fashionista.

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It follows two teenage girls, Drea (Camilla Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke), who help each other fulfill their respective revenge fantasies and seek out the justice they believe they are owed. The black comedy is brimmed with dramatic twists to keep the story compelling, juxtaposed with playful visual imagery and costumes that can be plucked right out of a Disney Princess' wardrobe. It's fun, unabashedly girly, and even gives an introspective discussion on Gen Z's obsession with revenge.

'The Edge of Seventeen' (2016)

Another coming-of-age comedy-drama, The Edge of Seventeen is the 2016 directorial debut of Kelly Fremon Craig that stars the talents of Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, and Haley Lu Richardson.

It follows the story of seventeen-year-old Nadine (Steinfeld) and her struggles with the fractured relationships in her life; with her more popular older brother, her controlling mother, and her best friend who committed the cardinal sin of hooking up with her best friend's brother. It is an emotionally powerful depiction of the struggles of teenage girlhood, giving a nuanced portrayal of teenage angst to satisfy anyone who ever experienced the melodrama of being a teenager.

'The Half Of It' (2020)

Another teen drama based on a classical story from literature, The Half Of It follows Ellie (Leah Lewis), the only Asian-American in her small town who is commissioned by football player Paul (Daniel Diemer) to write letters to another girl, Aster (Alexxis Lemire), who Ellie also has a crush on.

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It is unbelievably cute and sweet, especially with the friendship between Ellie and Paul, and has some pretty excellent commentary about the struggles of social isolation and the importance of friendship and self-acceptance. It has that sweet and awkward vibe that will be familiar to Tumblr users who aren't so into the melancholic side of the Tumblr girl.

'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' (2018)

It's hard to find anyone who hasn't heard of the mega-popular 2018 teenage rom-com, To All The Boys I've Loved Before, as well as its two sequels. It follows Lara Jean (Lana Condor) whose secret love letters are published and spread amongst those she dedicated them to, forcing her to address all of her crushes head-on.

It's bright, sweet, and colorful, and based on the YA novels by Jenny Han that gave some much-needed freshness to the teen-drama genre with a unique story and excellent costume design. To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a perfect comfort film about the power and nostalgia of innocent high school crushes.

'Paradise Hills' (2019)

Paradise Hills is definitely the wild card out of the bunch. It is a 2019 science-fantasy film by Alice Waddington and stars Awkwafina, Emma Roberts, and Danielle Macdonald that mostly fell under the radar.

The costumes are beautiful, and it's filled with dreamy visual imagery that can overshadow the film's main issue; it's an incredibly convoluted and confusing story. It will take you on a wild ride for sure, even if you genuinely will have no idea what's going on, but it's pretty and reminiscent of the flowery Tumblr girl aesthetic to keep audiences entertained long enough.

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