Coming of Age film or softcore pornography? To me, there is a definitive line, if not several levels separating the two genres. Coming Of Age films tackle topics of entering early adulthood. Topics like first kiss, first love, breaking out of ones shell, and all that other being a teenager happy horseshit are the standard subject matter. You might see the occasional booby shot or bathroom shower scene, but the nudity and sexual innuendo are typically pretty tame. Coming of Age movies are more driven by character development.
Softcore films, on the other hand, are less about the characters and more about the display of sexuality. Sure, many of these European films were character and/or story driven, but they had to be because hardcore sex on film wasn't yet socially acceptable throughout Europe(except possibly Sweden). I've also found that many of the 70's softies were directed and filmed with artistic vision. Focusing less on the sheer rawness of sexuality and more on the beauty of the female creature.
Strangely, to some, the two genres can be one in the same. Mixing both the drama of being a teenager and overdone sexuality, Bilitis(1977) is proof of this. Bilitis is the story of a young schoolgirl who has never known the kiss of a boy, but frequently fools around with her female classmate. In fact, it seems as if the whole private school she attends does. Not only do they all go on group skinny-dipping adventures, but they have teacher monitoring their activity. Kinda creepy and weird. Anyhoo, it's the end of the school year and Bili is spending her summer with a an unknown guardian who happens to be a family friend I'm guessing. Bili's guardian happens to be married to a scumbag, who happens to forcibly take his wife whenever he's not cheating on her. Bili, being the sensitive type, develops a deep hatred for the man, at the same time lusting after her much older "guardian". Things start to get a bit strange when scumbag takes a trip with his mistress, Leaving Bilitis a chance to act on her growing impulses.
I would like to pass the creepiness that is Bilitis off as just a "French" thing and me being 'Merican I couldn't possibly understand, but it's not that at all. David Hamilton, the director, although sought out as a visionary photographer, is well known for being quite a bit of a creep. If you check out the links at the top, you'll see what I mean. He may be an artist, but all his films have to do with teenagers and sex, and not like Porky's or American Pie. He really has a thing for schoolgirls between the ages of 14 and 16, who happen to have the hormonal drives of a sexual predator. I don't care how innovative the guy was by smearing vaseline on a camera lens, He obviously had some issues with attraction that aren't necessarily natural by modern standards, especially mine.
I'll admit that the photography was spot on and artistically pleasing as it was intended, although I wouldn't ever describe it as "visionary" or "cutting edge". The two lead actresses were also very nice on the eyes, and thankfully of age as actresses, so I was not offended by watching the two of them nakedly embrace and kiss each other. I am a straight man, after all. Other than a couple of beautiful filmed vanilla sex scenes and the creepiness of the direction, Bilitis had very little else to offer besides boredom, and lots of it. I won't be watching this again, or probably any other Hamilton production for that matter. Just plain creepy!!!!