Skip to content

20 Slow Movies That Deserve Your Patience

05 September 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

slow movies

Explosions, special effects, stars, fast-cutting-and-pacing stories, simple plot, any of you who have seen some modern Hollywood movies will find those elements in them. People in Hollywood made movies like fast food, we need fast movies because our life is fast. As long as it sells, it’s a good movie.

But is it the truth? Some directors certainly don’t think so. They made movie that are slow-paced, serious and realistic, they have another set of rules and criteria of filmmaking. People who are used to the romance and glamour of Hollywood flicks may not have enough patience to sit through such films, but if you have another mindset for slow movies, then you will find them enjoyable. Sometimes slow doesn’t mean boring. Life is short, why not give yourself a chance to try a different type of films? Just try them once for a while and you will find your movie experiences rewarding, probably more rewarding than those when you watch mainstream Hollywood movies.


20. The Thin Red Line


The Plodding Plot: Terrence Malick’s unconventional war saga focuses upon the mental drain of sustained combat, often shying away from displaying the actual violence in favour of showing the sickened and haunted expressions on the faces of the participants. And of course, this being Malick, there are plenty of lingering shots of the South Pacific island and its verdant undergrowth.

Rewarding Pay-Off: The end result is a war film stripped clean of bombast and one that remains exciting despite its more contemplative sensibilities. Quite simply, a triumph.

Action-Packed Alternative: Saving Private Ryan is a more explodey, if inferior, take on the war film.


19. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives


The Plodding Plot: A dying man lies on his deathbed, drifting in and out of consciousness as he “remembers” his former lives as past people. Throw in a soundtrack largely comprised of ambient forest noise, a series of very long shots and a seemingly non-existent narrative, and you’re left with a very strange proposition indeed.

Rewarding Pay-Off: If you’re open to the notion of cinema as a dreamy, out-of-body experience there is much to savour here. If that description makes you want to gouge your eyes out, it might not be for you.

Action-Packed Alternative: A remake in which one of Boonmee’s past lives is revealed to have been as a kung-fu fighting badass. Are you listening Hollywood?


18. Into Great Silence


The Plodding Plot: There isn’t really a plot, seeing as this is a documentary following the lives of Carthusian Monks living high in the French Alps. Three hours long, it’s more or less dialogue-free, fairly repetitive and light on action. But then, what were you expecting? A car chase?

Rewarding Pay-Off: If you can stick with it, it provides an incomparable insight into the dedication and spiritual resolve of its subjects. Just about as meditative a cinematic experience as you could hope for.

Action-Packed Alternative: Of Gods Of Men portrays similarly dedicated monks in the more explosion-friendly setting of civil war.


17. The Pledge


The Plodding Plot: Jack Nicholson plays a washed-up detective unable to let go of an old case in Sean Penn’s bleak and ponderous crime saga. A slow, painful depiction of dedication turning to obsession turning to madness.

Rewarding Pay-Off: It might be a little too grim for some tastes, but the snail’s pace never renders things less than engrossing. Nicholson is on top form, reigning himself in impressively, whilst a tear-stained cameo from Mickey Rourke represents another high point.

Action-Packed Alternative: Any number of grizzled, “one-last-case” blastathons churned out by mainstream Hollywood.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5


Other Brilliant Movie Posts On The Web


Like Us on Facebook!

  • Kevyn Knox

    Damn! There are some great films on this list. Some of ‘em are in my personal top 100 – one is even my second favourite film of all-time.

    It’s crazy to think that so many have such an aversion to what they perceive as slow-moving films. I love slow films, I love fast films – as long as they are good films, which all of these are + some. But then, I know people who refuse to watch black and white movies because, as they claim, colour is better. Crazy, man! Crazy.

  • Vince Duggan

    If you dropped acid at the beginning of the “light show” from “2001…”, you’d be too late.
    Or so I’ve been told.

  • Rick Callahan

    Glad to see The Straight Story on this list. I watched it on a whim a while back and it was amazing.

  • Red Lagoon

    Great List, good job!!!