Sad Movies About Mental Illness

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Sad Movies About Mental Illness

Dozens of directors have explored Sad Movies About Mental Illness. Here are 25 of the top ones.

Inception (2010)

Inception
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Christopher Nolan, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Ken Watanabe
Rated PG-13

Inception is a 2010 science-fiction heist thriller film written, co-produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, a professional thief who steals confidential information by entering the subconscious minds of his targets through a dream-sharing technology. Cobb is recruited by a mysterious leader (Ken Watanabe) to execute a dangerous mission: to implant an idea into the mind of a CEO. In order to complete the task, Cobb and his team of experts must navigate a dangerous maze of secrets and conflicting objectives. As they move deeper into the dream world, they confront powerful forces that threaten to tear apart the team and destroy their mission. With mind-bending action and stunning visuals, Inception explores the power of the subconscious and the boundaries between reality and dream.

Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From David Fincher, starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier
Rated R

Fight Club is a 1999 psychological drama film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter, the film tells the story of an unnamed narrator (Norton) who is discontented with his white-collar job and forms a "fight club" with soap maker Tyler Durden (Pitt). As the fight club grows and their acts of vandalism and chaos become more extreme, the narrator finds himself in a relationship with Durden and a dissociative state of being. The film touches on themes of nihilism, masculinity, and anticonsumerism as it explores the conflict between the narrator's values and what society deems important. Fight Club was a box office success, although it received mixed reviews from critics. It has since become a cult classic.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Milos Forman, starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco
Rated R

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1975 drama film directed by Milos Forman and based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick McMurphy, a prisoner who feigns insanity to serve his time in a mental hospital, where he clashes with the oppressive Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher. The film follows McMurphy and his fellow inmates as they struggle to defy the authority of the hospital staff, headed by Ratched. In the end, McMurphy is lobotomized, with his fellow inmates rallying behind him before his demise. The film was a major critical and commercial success upon its release, winning five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Se7en (1995)

Se7en
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From David Fincher, starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker
Rated R

Se7en is a 1995 neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. Set in a nameless city plagued by a relentless rain, the film follows two homicide detectives and their hunt for a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi. The mismatched detectives, David Mills (Brad Pitt) and William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), are tasked with investigating a series of grisly murders, each seemingly inspired by one of the seven deadly sins: gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride and lust. As the investigation deepens, Mills and Somerset come to realize that they are dealing with a highly intelligent and diabolical killer. The detectives' pursuit of the killer leads them to a dramatic and harrowing climax as they attempt to stop him from committing his seventh and final crime. Se7en is a thrilling tale of crime and punishment that explores the dark depths of human nature.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Jonathan Demme, starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons
Rated R

The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological horror-thriller film about an FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, who is tasked with interviewing a notorious serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, in order to gain insight into the mind of another serial killer, Buffalo Bill. Lecter is incredibly intelligent and manipulative, and he uses his knowledge to play psychological games with Clarice. As Clarice learns more about the inner workings of Lecter's mind, she is also able to gain insight into the mind of Buffalo Bill, allowing her to identify and ultimately pursue him. The film also deals with issues of morality, as Clarice is forced to make difficult choices in order to bring Buffalo Bill to justice. The Silence of the Lambs won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Psycho (1960)

Psycho
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin
Rated R

Psycho is a 1960 psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based loosely on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who steals a large sum of money from her boss, and checks into the Bates Motel. She meets the motel's proprietor, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who appears to be a shy and innocent young man. As Marion begins to become unsettled by his odd behavior, she discovers the horrifying truth about the Bates family. The film is celebrated for its innovative use of music, cinematography, and editing, as well as its groundbreaking depictions of violence and sexuality. Psycho is widely considered one of Hitchcock's best films and a landmark in the horror genre.

Memento (2000)

Memento
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Christopher Nolan, starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior
Rated R

Memento is a psychological thriller that follows Leonard Shelby, a man suffering from anterograde amnesia who is searching for the murderer of his wife. Unable to form new memories, Leonard must rely on photographs, notes, and tattoos to remind him of his mission, as well as the clues he discovers along the way. The film is told in two distinct timelines, one in reverse chronological order, and the other in chronological order. As the story progresses, Leonard's quest becomes increasingly complex and morally questionable, leading him to confront difficult truths about his past.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke
Rated R

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. The film follows a young, charismatic delinquent named Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his band of "droogs" as they embark on a night of "ultraviolence," terrorizing the residents of a dystopian future England. Alex is eventually arrested and subjected to the Ludovico Technique, a controversial aversion therapy designed to cure violent behavior. Although the treatment is successful in curtailing Alex's criminal urges, it also deprives him of his free will. The film explores the implications of free will, authority, and social control in a world of extreme, unchecked violence. A Clockwork Orange remains a controversial classic, hailed as a masterpiece by many and reviled by others for its bleak, uncompromising vision.

Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
Rated R

Shutter Island is a psychological thriller set in 1954, directed by Martin Scorsese. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, are sent to the remote Shutter Island to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient from the island's Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. As Teddy and Chuck explore the island, they come face-to-face with the hospital's sinister secrets, and are in store for a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the hospital's head doctor. Teddy quickly realizes he must face his own personal demons if he is to get to the truth of what happened to the missing patient and make it out alive.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson
Rated R

No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American neo-western thriller film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The screenplay, written by Joel and Ethan Coen, is based on Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel of the same name. The story takes place in 1980s Texas and centers around a hunter, Llewelyn Moss, who stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and finds a satchel containing two million dollars in cash. He takes it, setting off a chain of violent events that include a psychopathic hitman, Anton Chigurh. As the hunter attempts to keep one step ahead of the killers, a weary sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, investigates the escalating violence. The film explores themes of fate, morality, and justice. It was critically acclaimed, winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also won numerous other awards, including the BAFTA Award and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Picture.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks
Rated R

Taxi Driver is a 1976 American psychological drama film written by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese. The film follows Travis Bickle, a lonely, emotionally-troubled veteran, who takes a job as a taxi driver in New York City. As Travis navigates through the mean streets of the city, he becomes increasingly disturbed, and eventually, on a mission of vigilante justice, takes extreme measures to save a young prostitute from her abusive pimp. The film stars Robert De Niro as Travis, as well as Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepherd in supporting roles. The film has become a classic of cinema, renowned for its intense cinematography, realistic violence, and iconic score composed by Bernard Herrmann.

Logan (2017)

Logan
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From James Mangold, starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook
Rated R

Logan (2017) is a superhero movie inspired by the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Directed by James Mangold and starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen, the film follows Logan and Charles Xavier as they try to protect a young mutant girl, Laura, from the evil force that pursues her. Logan, who is suffering from a mysterious illness, must find a way to keep the girl safe, while also trying to protect Charles, who is suffering from dementia. Throughout their journey, the trio is faced with tough challenges and difficult decisions, as they battle against powerful forces that want to take advantage of Laura's abilities. Ultimately, Logan must face his inner demons in order to save the day and protect those he cares about.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From George Miller, starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz
Rated R

Mad Max: Fury Road is an action packed adventure film from director George Miller. The movie follows Max Rockatansky, a loner and survivor of a nuclear apocalypse, as he joins forces with Imperator Furiosa on a dangerous mission to overthrow the tyrannical Immortan Joe. Along the way, they must fight their way through an army of War Boys, and a fierce desert landscape, in order to reach the safety of the 'Green Place'. Filled with thrilling car chases, outrageous stunts, and intense fight sequences, Mad Max: Fury Road is an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

Room (2015)

Room
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Lenny Abrahamson, starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Wendy Crewson
Rated R

Room is a 2015 drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel of the same name. The film stars Brie Larson as Joy "Ma" Newsome and Jacob Tremblay as her five-year-old son, Jack. The two are held captive in a small, windowless room and have been since Jack was born. Ma has created a life for Jack within the room and manages to keep their spirits up despite their situation. When Jack turns five, Ma decides to take a dangerous risk and try to escape with Jack, hoping to find freedom and a better life for her son. The film follows their journey as they experience the joys of a world Jack has never known, as well as the traumatic effects of their experience in captivity. Room explores themes of hope, resilience, and the power of the mother-child bond in an inspiring and uplifting story.

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From David Fincher, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
Rated R

Gone Girl is a 2014 mystery-thriller film directed by David Fincher and based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn. The film stars Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, a writer whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has mysteriously disappeared on the day of their fifth anniversary. As the police investigate, Nick's seemingly perfect life and marriage unravel, leading to accusations that he may have been involved in her disappearance. As the search for Amy progresses, secrets are revealed, and a shocking truth is ultimately uncovered.

Fargo (1996)

Fargo
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, starring William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
Rated R

Fargo is a 1996 crime comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The story follows a car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), who is desperate for money and enlists the help of two criminals, Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare), to kidnap his wife in order to extort a ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. The investigation of the kidnapping leads to a series of events involving a pregnant police chief, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who attempts to solve the case while navigating the small-town community of Brainerd, Minnesota. Fargo received widespread acclaim, with McDormand's performance being praised by many as one of the best of the decade, and the Coens winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won two for Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Original Screenplay.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

A Woman Under the Influence
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John Cassavetes, starring Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands
Rated R

A Woman Under the Influence is a 1974 drama film directed by John Cassavetes. It stars Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands as a couple whose marriage is tested when the wife, Mabel, begins to show signs of mental instability. The film follows Mabel's attempts to establish a normal life in the face of her growing mental illness, and her husband's struggle to understand her and find a way to help her. The film is a powerful exploration of the relationship between the couple and their families, and the social stigmas that exist around mental illness. Ultimately, it is a story of love and resilience in the face of extreme hardship.

Mommy (2014)

Mommy
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Xavier Dolan, starring Anne Dorval, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément, Patrick Huard
Rated R

"Mommy" is a 2014 Canadian drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan. It stars Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, and Suzanne Clément. The film follows a widowed single mother, Diane Després (Dorval), and her troubled 15-year-old son Steve (Pilon). After being expelled from a series of schools, Steve is sent to a new public school, where he meets Kyla (Clément), an eccentric teacher. With her help, Steve and Diane learn to cope with their difficult situation and find a way to love each other again. The film is full of raw emotion as it explores the relationships between parents and children as well as the struggles of single-parent families. It is an intense and heartbreaking story of love, loss, and redemption.

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder
Rated R

Black Swan is a 2010 psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky. The film centers on Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a promising principal dancer at a prestigious New York City ballet company. When the company’s artistic director (Vincent Cassel) decides to cast a new production of Swan Lake, Nina is chosen for the lead role of the White Swan, despite not showing the necessary passion for the part. She must come to terms with her inner demons, which manifest in her rival for the role, Lily (Mila Kunis). As the pressure mounts and Nina's insecurities spiral out of control, she finds herself in a nightmarish journey of self-destruction. In the end, she must confront her fears and make a decision that will determine her fate.

Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Richard Kelly, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne
Rated R

Donnie Darko is a psychological horror-thriller film written and directed by Richard Kelly. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie Darko, a troubled teenager who sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a vision of a monstrous rabbit named Frank. Frank instructs Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Donnie follows Frank's instructions, and begins to explore the dangerous consequences of time travel. As his local community becomes increasingly unsettled, Donnie comes to understand the power of love and courage. Donnie eventually learns that his actions will determine the fate of the world.

Perfect Blue (1997)

Perfect Blue
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Satoshi Kon, starring Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura
Rated R

Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller from director Satoshi Kon. It tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a young Japanese pop idol who decides to quit her pop career and pursue an acting career instead. As she struggles to adapt to the cutthroat world of entertainment, her sanity begins to slip away and she finds herself being stalked by an obsessed fan. As the stalking intensifies, Mima begins to experience strange visions and paranoia, eventually leading her to suspect her own manager of foul play. In the end, Mima is forced to confront her demons and discover the truth behind her increasingly disturbing world.

12 Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Terry Gilliam, starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Joseph Melito
Rated R

12 Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt. In a future world, a deadly virus has been unleashed and nearly wiped out the human race. To learn the cause and hopefully find a cure, a convict (Willis) is sent back in time to 1996, where he teams up with a scientist (Stowe) and a mental patient (Pitt) to try and prevent the virus from being released in the first place. The trio must endure dangerous time travel, government agents, and a shadowy group known as the "Army of the 12 Monkeys" in their quest to save humanity.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono, Wesley Addy
Rated Passed

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The plot follows Jane Hudson, an aging former child star (Bette Davis), and her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) who is paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident. Jane, resentful of Blanche's success and fixated on the idea of reclaiming the stardom of her youth, begins to psychologically torture her sister by subjecting her to physical and mental abuse. As Jane spirals further into madness, Blanche must find a way to save herself and escape her sister's clutches. The film is a darkly humorous exploration of the twisted relationship between two sisters, as well as a commentary on the struggles of aging actresses in Hollywood.

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

Through a Glass Darkly
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Ingmar Bergman, starring Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars Passgård
Rated Not Rated

Through a Glass Darkly is a 1961 Swedish drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set on a remote island off the coast of Sweden, the film is about Karin (Harriet Andersson), who is on holiday with her father, her brother, and her husband. Karen's mental health is deteriorating, and the family struggles to cope with her increasing paranoia and delusions. As her mental state rapidly deteriorates, Karen begins to experience visions and hallucinations that force her to confront her innermost fears and anxieties. Ultimately, she must come to terms with the truth about her fragile mental state and the reality of her family's attempts to help her. The film is a powerful exploration of the effects of mental illness on a family and a hauntingly beautiful meditation on faith, family, and the fragility of life.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

A Streetcar Named Desire
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Elia Kazan, starring Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden
Rated PG

A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film directed by Elia Kazan, and adapted from Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. The film tells the story of Blanche DuBois, a fading Southern belle who moves to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella and her brother-in-law Stanley. Blanche's fragile world is shattered when Stanley's brutish behavior and animalistic sexuality bring Blanche's illusions of grandeur and refinement crashing down around her. The film captures the tension between the two characters as they struggle to come to terms with each other and their drastically different worlds. The film features strong performances from Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, as well as a powerful score by Alex North. The film was a critical and commercial success, and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning four. It remains one of the most acclaimed films of all time.

 



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