Manic Monday – Movies that show ‘Crazy’

There are loads and loads of movies out there that show (allegedly) mentally ill people. I’m going to tell you some of my favorite ones and give you the main reasons why I like them. Today it’s not really a quick post but I liked the idea, so I hope you stay with me.

Prozac Nation (2001)

I was lying awake half the night until I finally gave in and switched the telly on. The movie had just started and I thought ‘That looks interesting’, so I watched the complete thing. And I loved it for two reasons: 1) It’s a movie that is based on the autobiographic novel by Elizabeth Wurtzel, describing her episodes of major depression, and I always like a movie that is based on an interesting true story. 2) Elizabeth, played by Christina Ricci, yells all the things at her mum (played by the gorgeous and always kind of royal looking Jessica Lange) that I wanted to but never could yell at my mums face. So she was somehow acting on my behalf.

Snow Cake (2006)

Was as far as I remember also an ‘insomnia-accident’. Also liked it very much for two reasons: 1) It has Alan Rickman in it. (Yep, that’s as deep as it gets.) and 2) Sigourney Weaver isn’t playing some character who hunts aliens or serial killers or helps trying to invade a planet or sacrifices people to ancient gods. Indeed, she is in my opinion giving the performance of her life in this movie about loss and grief. Although Snow Cake is overall a sad movie, it has hilarious moments, mainly due to the female main character’s (Weaver) autism. But it’s not making fun of people with that mental illness, the scenes are just funny because they have so much truth.

And because I love this movie so much, here’s a little appetizer.

Fight Club (1999)

My mum and I watched this movie during our Let’s watch every movie that has Brad Pitt in it-phase. (Apparently that’s a thing.) In the end I thought “What? No! Nooooo.” A few years later I read the book, and I deeply recommend it, if you’ve only (or not yet) have seen the film. If you haven’t seen the movie yet (really??) and you intend to see it (good boy!), then stop reading NOW.

I mean, come on, has there ever been a movie that led you on in such a brilliant way? Throughout the whole film I thought: Why isn’t the guy played by Edward Norton just walking out on that guy played by Brad Pitt? Tyler Durden’s an a-hole. And what a cuckoo character is Marla, please? She’s behaving like a psycho the whole time. And then – boom! – you realize that the only name you ever heard is Tyler Durden, because the character played by Edward Norton is never called by his name. Which is, of course, Tyler Durden. And on top the movie has Meat Loaf and Jared Leto in it.

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest (1975)

Of course, no list without this classic. And every time I watch it, I ask myself who’s the crazy person in this drama. I mean, nurse Ratchet is one evil bitch, and I think we all agree that she is probably the one who needs psychological treatment more than anybody else in her institution. Why I like the movie should be obvious. Besides the fact that it explains lots of things that Michel Foucault compiled about the nature of mental institutions and the mechanisms of power at work in said institutions (that hint was to satisfy the philosopher in me), it is one of many many absolutely fantastic performances of Jack Nicholson. Plus, everyone of the minor characters was perfectly cast to fill out his role.

Donnie Darko (2001)

I watched it because it was recommended by my best friend. Saw it, loved it, bought the DVD and watched it at least a dozen times, including the versions with director and cast commenting the movie. Is Donnie a schizophrenic? Or is he a super hero? Is it all about time travel? Or about a teenage boy who is going mad? We don’t know, not even after Richard Kelly tells us about his ideas surrounding the story.

I love this movie, because it has well written characters, a great soundtrack, clever dialogue and it plays with archetypes. I mean, have you seen the school principal and the gym teacher? They look like somebody brought two characters of The Simpsons to life and sent them off to a ride on the brain teasing roller coaster.

And because nobody ever before or after has had such a good philosophical view about Smurfs:

Primal fear (1996)

My mum showed me this after she had already seen it, and watched actually me watching the movie. She was extremely entertained by the changes of my facial expressions. I mean, Edward Norton convinced me. Several times. If you haven’t watched it yet but want to do so: Stop reading NOW. Watch the trailer instead. It doesn’t ruin any of the big surprises, promise. (Ignore the silly music.)

I went from “Okay, he didn’t kill him but who was it?” to “Oh, okay, so he DID kill him but he had a strong reason.” to “Whaaat? He has split personality disorder, so he killed him and didn’t kill him at the same time? Wow, nice twist.” to “What the heck? He just pretended to have a split personality, so he definitely killed the priest and is going free!!? What a rotten dirtbag!!” And that’s the reason why I liked it. It has some twists but they are written so well and revealed in such a clever way, that it’s far from silly. You know those movies where a sudden twist just leaves you feeling odd because it doesn’t make any sense at all? Primal fear isn’t one of those movies.

That’s my little list of movies showing ‘Crazy’. What movies with characters that are (allegedly) mentally ill did you find interesting or irritating and why did you watch them? Maybe I get some ideas from you what to watch next.

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