What is a movie to you? For some it’s an escape from the reality of the world. A chance to sit down, unwind and forget about all the troubles that we deal with in our daily lives. Which of course is the point of them. Movies are entertainment. However, sometimes a movie can be so much more.
A movie can bring you joy, laughter and even happiness. It can make you sad, nostalgic and long for something that you want or have lost. Then there are those rare times that a movie can make you think. Those special few movies can make you look at the world around you, they can make you question the very nature of reality!
On a smaller scale, those few movies can make you take a good, hard look at your own life. Can I do better? Be better? Or should I just be thankful for what I’ve got? These are just a few questions that a really great movie can leave you asking yourself.
So we look at the 14 movies that will make you re-think your life.
14. About Time
The first movie on our list possesses the question: if you could time travel, would you go back and change things?
The movie is a bit blurry with the science but a young man finds out that all the male members of his family have the ability to travel through time. In particular, across their own time line. He then rushes back through his life to change things for his own personal gain. He eventually falls in love. Once he has won over his love, he starts a family. Then the rules change as he discovers there are certain points you can’t travel back to. For example, if you have a child and travel back prior to their birth. When you come back to the present, the baby could be different; could be a boy or girl – after all, it’s chance.
The film maybe a quirky take on the rom com. But it does pose some deep questions. If you could travel back in time, what would you change? And ultimately, would it matter? Is life just random chance?
13. Fight Club
When Fight Club was first released, it caused a bit of an outrage in the critic world with a lot of them taking the film at face value and labeled it as an overly savage and violent mockery of ‘middle America.’
Luckily the fans didn’t see it the same way and the movie, quite rightly, became an instant cult classic. With a brilliant look at the modern world, Fight Club asks the questions about identity in the modern world. Who are we? Are we our jobs? Are we the objects we own?
Edward Norton’s character is a great example of the ‘every man’ and how empty and unsatisfying life can be if you answer ‘yes’ to those questions.
12. Lost in Translation
The premise of the movie itself may not be anything new, but the way in which it’s told was refreshing and uplifting. The questions here are about human behavior and relationships in the modern world. With the emphasis on connections, it poses questions on how you never know where or who you could connect with. Maybe not questions as such, more of a warning. You could find a connection in any scenario, situation or place but take your eyes off them and these connections will pass you by.
11. The Matrix
A movie that many people claimed to have changed cinema forever. Taking away the groundbreaking special effects, the film itself is a mix of action, philosophy and even fairy-tales. At the heart of the movie is the question ‘what is reality?’
This movie’s interpretation is that ‘The Matrix’ is a computer programme that enslaves humanity into a dream like state. Making it forget about the war it lost and the suffering it continues to go through. The very foundations of the movie are almost a spiritual awakening. ‘Are we in The Matrix?’ Comparing it to some kind of afterlife, could we ever truly know if we are in The Matrix or not? If that’s the case, then how do we know anything? And does that make life meaningless?
10. 127 Hours
What would you do in order to survive? When all hope is gone, what is left inside ourselves? These are just some of the questions that we ask ourselves when we watch 127 Hours.
After mountain climber Aron Ralston gets trapped under a fallen boulder, he spends the next 5 days trapped. Spending the time thinking over his life and the people he’s known, the time soon comes when he must decide and take action if he’s going to get out.
A truly inspirational story that has us all questioning our own mortality and wondering what we would do in a life and death situation. The only thing we know for sure is that after we’ve watched this movie, we’re inspired to live each moment as much as we can.
9. American Beauty
If there is a movie that perfectly represents a midlife crisis, it’s American Beauty. The Oscar-winning movie hits so many nails firmly on the head, and asks that age old question, ‘What is happiness?’
A typical suburban man, brilliantly played by Kevin Spacey, rejects everything about his life and starts to regress back to when he was last happy. This includes working out more, smoking pot and having a massive crush on his daughter’s best friend. There are many sub-points to this movie such as sexuality and social status. But at its heart the movie is all about happiness. If you spent most of your life building the ‘perfect’ life, what happens when it no longer makes you happy? Can you change it?
8. Before Sunrise
This is a movie that brings up the one subject that still dominates us all – love. When two strangers from opposite ends of the world meet by chance on a train, they instantly feel a connection. Having only till the next day, as that is when his flight leaves, they decide to spend the day together.
A subject, and fantasy, that many of us have. And it poses the question: is it possible to fall for someone after only one day? And if it is, what would we do about it? The positive message from this movie is how you never know when you could meet someone who will change your life. Sunrise is a simple movie that doesn’t have great depth to the plot, but it’s one that will make you re-think your views on love.
7. Life is Beautiful
A dark and gritty movie here that’s set against the backdrop of World War II. The subject matter and situations may not be relevant to today’s audiences but the message is still the same: hope and optimism. No matter what life can throw at you, always stay positive.
As the nightmare and horrors of World War II sweeps across the world, a father tries to protect his family and shield them from the horrors in order to keep their innocence. The film is a simple and beautiful way of delivering that message; staying positive is something we can all use in our lives, no matter how trivial it may be compared to this.
Lars Von Trier has become synonymous with thought provoking work as his films quite often shine a light onto the darker, and often unspoken, parts of humanity. This film is no different.
Part of the ‘ Trilogy of Depression,’ Melancholia takes place just before a global catastrophe. Seen from a young woman’s point of view, the film mirrors her own depression as it uses metaphors to tackle and deal with the stigma of the mental illness. The film asks many questions about our own mortality and if we make the most of our time here. It also raises the question of depression itself. With so many people affected by it, we still suffer in silence. A film to make you think about what you actually know about depression.
5. Under the Skin
Another movie on this list for Scarlett Johansson, and probably one of her best performances to date.
Johansson is an alien who assumes human form and seduces men to be ‘harvested.’ This is a movie that needs to be watched and experienced. So without giving anything else away, this movie tackles human consciousness and how our experiences factor into that.
The alien in question learns and grows as she develops, and is confronted by her own human consciousness. A movie that will leave you dumbstruck at what you’ve seen and then you’ll no doubt be questioning your own consciousness and what it means to have one.
4. The Man from Earth
One of the most overlooked and underrated movies in recent years. This science fiction film, which doesn’t rely on CGI or explosions to tell its story, is purely dialogue and character driven. Essentially a conversation between academics, the movie simply tackles some of the big questions about humanity such as religion, culture and even the very existence of humanity itself.
Raising the question of immortality and how that would shape the modern world, or what in fact would a man who’s lived a thousand years make of the modern world. And would someone who can live so long still care about mortal life or any life at all?
With a great ending and plenty of ideas that may change what you believe about the world, The Man from Earth is a must see for any true science fiction fans.
3. The Truman Show
Many younger people may not realize it now, especially with reality TV and celebrity culture dominating our lives. But The Truman Show was greatly ahead of its time. The original ‘Big Brother,’ it held a mirror up to society at just how far we would go for ‘entertainment.’
A man is secretly filmed for his entire life, with every moment of it being manipulated by the TV executives, including his love life, his father’s death and making him so terrified of water that he won’t dare leave his home town.
The Truman Show not only shows us the depth that we will sink to for ‘good’ TV, it also makes us think about our own reality. Why do we blindly accept what’s around us? When we are alone, what is the rest of the world doing? Are they even there?
A movie that may not make you think about the reality around you, as with a lot of movies on this list. But instead should make you panic and run screaming from the technical world we live in.
When a lonely middle aged man hears about a new operating system that has the world’s first artificial intelligence, he immediately rushes out to get it. After spending time with ‘her,’ he starts to have romantic feelings for ‘her.’
There are many themes and points to this movie, but the one that stands out the most is simple and scary. With its parallels to the tech-obsessed culture that we’ve become, the movie shows us what could happen. Our attachment to our devices has rendered even the basic human interaction almost obsolete. Paving the way for loneliness, and isolation becoming the norm. It’s frightening!
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
With all the movies about love and finding that special someone, what happens when you’ve found that person and it doesn’t work out? Do you give up? Try again? Or erase them entirely?
Number one on our list has to be the greatest love/ break up film of all time, as Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet do just that. Tired with their relationship, both Carrey and Winslet have each other erased from their own memories. The film is brilliantly shot, in almost a Memento style as Carrey (in a career defining performance) tries to cling on to the memories of his love.
This asks the question: what is love? And is love stronger than the trivial lives we lead together? But most importantly, is there such a thing as true love? Having your memories wiped and then meeting that person again, would love still be there?