Top 12 Movie Representations of Mental Disorders

Now that sounds serious. The topic came to me when I was finally attempting to watch The Iron Lady (and although I didn’t like it at all- it was still more interesting than Lincoln) and I was about to drop it when suddenly I recalled the anger I felt when Silver Linings Playbook was acclaimed one of the best representation of depression in cinema. First of all- Silver Linings Playbook really doesn’t get too deep into the topic discussion and secondly- say what?! Yes, the characters are having mental breakdowns, however, compared to all the other representations of depression I’ve seen, including Twilight Eclipse goddamit! was much better than this. Silver Linings Playbook characters are as unbalanced and troubled as anyone else in the world and the problem of their depression ends as quickly as it begins. So inspired with Margaret Thatcher’s madness and outraged by Silver Linings Praises, I have decided to look closer at the images of mental disorders in films and pick the most outstanding ones. Penguin!

12.The Idiots

Lars Von Trier’s dogma film brought him the reputation of one of the most controversial film directors of all times.  The Idiots present a very unique insight into the topics of freedom and mental disability. The characters’ behaviour is a rebellion against the social norms and seemingly anti-bourgeois manifesto.

11. Memento

The main character of memento is suffering from memory lost and the film portrays his attempt to survive in the labyrinth of his own mind. The movie is disturbing and intense but unlike von Trier’s distant portrayal, Memento allows us to see the main hero from within his mental disorder.

10. The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter could be one of many Vietnam war films, however, what makes it entirely unique is that its main focus lies on the influence the war had on the soldiers individually. It is a story of two men who are separated through the horrors of the war, specifically Nick’s trauma. The Deer Hunter is one of the most upsetting portrayal of mental illness and definitely the most powerful war film I have seen.

9. The Machinist

Another movie analysing the influence of post traumatic syndrom is The Machinist- a film so dark and grim that I would really recommend watching it only on the best day of your life. The viewer plays the role of investigator whose morality is questioned through the revelation of Reznik’s story.

8. Melancholia

Melancholia is Lars Von Trier’s manifestation of his own depression. Although it the Apocalypse movie, the world ends more than once in it.

7. The Virgin Suicides

The most dreamy portrayal of depression. The Virgin Suicides never judges, never defines and never ends to seek the true story of five beautiful sisters who committed suicide.

6. Beautiful Mind

One of the first movies I have seen that focus on the topic of schizophrenia. Although narration balances between John Nash and his partner, it is through his eyes that the mental disorder is revealed allowing us to truly experience the horrors produced by his mind.

5. Mary and Max

If Lars von Trier made an animation, it would be Mary and Max. It focuses on two troubled characters whose relationship begins with accidental letter. Mary comes from a broken family and struggles to find any friends and Max suffers from Asperger’s which makes his life almost unlivable. Until the day they ‘meet’…

4. The Aviator

Glamour life and high society are just fragile walls pretending to hide Howard Hughes’ OCD. It is a story of a man who couldn’t allow himself to fail and his struggle to fight his worst enemy and best friend- his mind. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get the Oscar for the performance…because?

3. Fight Club/American Psycho

I put both of these films under the same position because they are similar in topic of delusion (although there’s no doubt that both of them deserve a separate place on the list but no space simply!). I can’t really say too much about either of them although most of you are familiar with the endings. Still, both movies are incredibly disturbing, powerful and so well made, if you only see one movie about mental disorder, I wouldn’t be offended if you pick Fight Club or American Psycho.

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The movie is perfect and just like von Trier’s The Idiots, it discusses the relationship between mental disorder and freedom. No surprise it lands so highly on the list. It is the one that will change your life.

1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

It is a film about weirdness, attempts to fit in society, alienation and struggle to accept oneself. Although only one character is defined as mentally disabled (raise your hands who thought Leonardo DiCaprio was actually autistic when you saw it for the first time) , all the other characters represent the emotions that mentally trouble us. It is the ultimate movie that combines all the problems that have been raised in the 11 other films I put on the list and that is the reason it can only take one place. And Leonardo DiCaprio




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