Five Quintessentially Hipster Films Deconstructed

Trying to define "hipster film" is not really hipster. It goes against the independent subcultures that hipsters proclaim to inhabit. It's like, whatever, suit. Fuck off, what do you know? However, hipsters are everywhere, including the mainstream. America's socio-economic structure is shifting. We are evolving. Black presidents. Gay marriages. The matriarchal structure is stronger than ever--girl power, that's right.

All of this is reflected in hipster film. The following films fall into a strict paradigm. They appeal to late teens and early 20-somethings. The girls are quirky, weird, aloof, and usually not as in love with the boy as the boy is with them. In turn, the male leads are hyper-sensitive and overly emotional. They have blunt, sarcastic sidekicks. There's usually a scene at a record store or thrift shop. There could be weird camera work with an impromptu zine kind of feel. Maybe overuse of the jump cut, cut to, or voice-over. Here are prime examples:

5. Juno
Juno (2007) really kick-starts the hipster film motif, at least in modern times. Before Juno, contemporary hipster flicks like Garden State, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, or Almost Famous

had female leads (Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet, and Kate Hudson) who

were Manic Pixie Dream Girls, wacky, quirky characters high-on-life

whose sole existence was to instill in brooding men the secrets of love

and the spirit of youth. In Juno, you have a quirky female

character who basically doesn't give a shit about the guy.

Ironically, however,

with this liberation the woman is no longer a light spirit--on the

contrary, she is darker, cynical, and more sarcastic. The aloofness and

loneliness in the powerful female lead is hipster and absolutely modern.

Juno did have Bleeker (Michael Cera), but their relationship was

off-balanced, he liked her more. They were in a band, totally hipster.

Juno debated indie music with Mark (Jason Bateman), which also reflects

this movie's hipsterdom, but her DYI attitude is what is intrinsically


500 Days of Summer

(2009) absolutely belongs on this list. Once again, the central plot of

the story revolves around a boy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who likes a girl

more than the girl likes him. They fall for each other upon discovery

that they both love The Smiths. How hipster is that? More importantly,

Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is yet another example of this female trope, an

aloof, quirky, introverted girl who basically doesn't know what she


Although she has the power, she's not necessarily interested in

it. Summer is in a band and her quirky hipster style lends one to think

she is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But in fact, her character is way more

complicated and confusing. She's not a good girl. This hipster movie is

also replete with experimental cinematographic techniques. There's also a

scene at a music store. And the male has sarcastic sidekicks who give

him a hard time for his emo-ness.

3. Breaking Upwards
Breaking Upwards

(2009) is hardly ground-breaking, mind-blowing or even a must-see. It's

sort of cliche and a little kitschy in its sentiment, but it possesses

the hipster spirit and falls into our paradigm. The characters are

neurotic and insecure, co-dependent and self-centered--traits

intrinsically screaming hipster, more specifically New York Jewish

hipster. The female lead is an aspiring actress; the male an emerging

writer--any artistic profession is indicative of hipster subculture.

In Breaking Upwards,

once again the male lead (Daryl) seems to like the girl a little bit

more while the female lead (Zoe) at times is completely disassociated

with feeling. What really makes this movie hipster is its $15,000

budget, ironic because the movie is set in an upper class Manhattan

world. Still, a 15K budget is nearly impossible for a feature. They cast

extras off Craigslist; it premiered at South by Southwest, all very

hipster. This cute movie epitomizes the indie flick and belongs on this

list for its DIY hipster ambition.

2. Harmony and Me
Harmony and Me

(2009) is laugh-out-loud hipster heaven. It is a hilarious story of a

dead-pan boy, numb and heartbroken, as he tries to get over an aloof

girl. Harmony (Justin Rice) wears a plaid shirt in almost every scene

and shops at thrift stores. Hipster. He finds healing in music. Hipster.

The story is set in Austin. Next to Portland and Brooklyn, Austin,

Texas is hipster-ville.

Harmony also has a smorgasbord of blunt,

sarcastic and straightforward side-kicks, all within our hipster

paradigm. Finally, this low-budget production with non-professional

actors is wrapped in a tight script. Although lo-fi for sure, its

Rushmore-esque script eliminates any mumble-core associations. Hipster


1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

(2010) is very hipster. Once again, the male lead (Michael Cera) falls

in love with a girl who doesn't seem to love him as much as he loves

her. Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the perfect example of

the contemporary hipster woman motif, a brooding girl who is darker,

aloof, cynical, and slightly sarcastic. She has all the power but

doesn't desire it at all. In addition, the ex-boyfriends that Pilgrim

battle is basically a rundown of hipster subculture: an emo boy, a

skateboarder turned actor, a vegan bassist, a lesbian ninja, twin

Japanese musicians, and Jason Schwartzman.

By the way, almost any movie

with Cera or Schwartzman probably belongs on a hipster list. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

is also very hipster in its production. There are lots of experimental

film techniques and special effects. Being based on a graphic novel is

of course hipster and zine-like. This movie premiered at Comic Con, San

Diego. Nuff said.

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