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20 Great Soul-Crushing Films That Are Worth Your Time

03 October 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Dylan Rambow

requiem-for-a-dream-2000

There are some films in this world whose main function serve to depress the viewer, to show-case the darkest, most lurid and sordid acts, the most desperate and strife-ridden lives. Why, for the love of God, would anyone wish to view these films? To remind ourselves that we are human.

It goes without saying that every film in this list is a beautiful piece of cinema. A director doesn’t set out to make a harrowing film such as these without caring deeply about its cinematography and editing. But these films also strike such a powerful emotional cord that they must be experienced, at least once.

These films show us how petty and inane our daily troubles truly are. They allow us to grieve for our fellow humans, the characters of these films, for their fates are truly hell on Earth. We watch these films so that we can appreciate everything for another year. To feel. To grow. To love. They serve as a cosmic reset button; suddenly anything bothering us is insignificant. These films heal.

When we describe a film as depressing, we don’t just mean ‘sad.’ ‘Soul-crushing’ is the preferred term. Films like Bambi, or Titanic, or even Inception, may be described as sad; they all feature deaths of loving, caring, innocent people, and the grief of those they leave behind.

These films aren’t just sad; they make you ashamed to admit you’re a human being. They feature the lowest of the low of our species, the sorrow and misery that can drive us to the most unconscionable acts. Topics like war, suicide, rape, neglect, mental illness, addiction, abuse, and extreme violence are the spinal cords of these films.

 

20. Happiness (1998, Todd Solondz)

happiness1-1

What makes it depressing: Am I actually rooting for a pedophile?

This film represents a slight change-of-pace from the other films. There are some awkwardly funny moments in this one, like Philip Seymour Hoffman masturbating and using the result to glue pictures to his wall. The film’s end features an eleven-year-old boy masturbating on a hotel balcony. The family dog licks up the result as the boy cheerfully tells his family, “I finally came.”

But there’s a lot of darkness here as well. Hoffman sexually harasses his female neighbors on the phone. After being dumped, Jon Lovitz casts a spell against his date, driving her life into emotional chaos. A husband dissolves his forty-year-strong marriage for almost no reason. The most troubling character is the eleven-year-old’s father, played by Dylan Baker, who sexually molests many of his son’s classmates.

The most troubling scene is where Dylan Baker attempts to incapacitate his family and his son’s friend so that he can rape the friend. He spikes their ice cream, but the friend doesn’t like ice cream; he likes tuna. So the dad spikes a tuna sandwich, but the boy isn’t hungry. This entire scene is shown through Baker’s eyes as he disturbingly eyes the young boy’s body.

Solondz has cleverly, and disgus-tingly, tricked the viewer into rooting for the pedophile to succeed. Baker later admits to his son what he’s done. He admits to his son that he jerks-off while thinking of his son, in an extremely powerful and emotionally-crippling scene.

 

19. Kichiku dai Enkai (aka Banquet of the Beasts) (1997, Kazuyoshi Kumakiri)

Kichiku dai Enkai

What makes it depressing: The vile hatred associated with the gang world

In this little known Japanese cult film, a small-time gang’s leader gets sent to prison, where he promptly commits suicide. After hearing the news of this suicide, the surviving gang’s members disagree on how the new leadership should be handled. Factions grow, tensions thicken, and the result is a bloody battle for power in the woods, featuring beheadings, shotguns, and more violence and gore than most care to view.

Like many of these films, what makes this film so depressing is the way it is shot. It’s shot on the cheap, so the poor, grainy quality of the film makes it so much more real, as if a real gang actually filmed these acts of depraved violence on their own cheap cameras.

Two of the final members hold out in an abandoned, dilapidated house in the middle of the woods. Imagery such as the tattered, blood-stained Japanese flag that hangs behind their mattress adds to the decadence of it all, the devolution of Japanese culture.

 

18. The Act of Killing (2012, Joshua Oppenheimer)

The Act of Killing

What makes it depressing: The growth of regret within an unrepentant killer.

This documentary focuses on a group of Indonesian gangsters and former death-squad leaders. A film crew comes to them with the idea to recreate some of their murders in the styles of classic American cinema. What gets documented are the gangsters methods and beliefs, their justifications for what they did. They mercilessly executed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of communists and Chinese immigrants, all of which to them was all necessary to protect their freedom and way of life.

The main person the film follows is named Anwar, and he is particularly frightening. He always wears very colorful shirts and a smile, even as he retells how exactly he slaughtered all those people, the exact locations of the bodies, the effectiveness of different weapons. He shows no remorse; in fact, he shows enthusiasm toward the prospect of recreating his favorite murders from his past.
Seeing just how indoctrinated really everyone in the film is, regarding the necessity of these government-sponsored gangsters who harass and shake-down their citizens, is truly unsettling. You would hope that in the 21st century, years after the murders these monsters perpetrated, that there would be more remorse. But no; just no.

There are hints at remorse. Anwar has horrible dreams, others regularly visit therapists. But it is only after filming a recreation, one in which Anwar plays a victim, that he gains some empathy for his victims. Anwar then returns to the same rooftop where so many of his murders occurred, and he dry-heaves, sick to his stomach over what he did.

Watching this scene, it feels like watching a human being grow a soul, and it is beyond powerful. But even this moment of catharsis does not negate the atrocities that occurred, and the guilt that Anwar and his fellow gangsters must take to their graves.

 

17. Leaving Las Vegas (1995, Mike Figgis)

leaving-las-vegas-1995

What makes it depressing: The alcoholic antics of a man who has given up.

In his Oscar winning performance, Nicolas Cage drinks himself to death. He’s lost his job, his marriage, and now he’s willing to lose his life in the most slow, agonizing way he can. When he drinks, he’s numb to his actions, but when he wakes up he’s vomiting, badly hungover and shaking violently, so much so that he can barely speak before running to the liquor cabinet.

He hires a prostitute, played by Elisabeth Shue, to keep him company, so long as she promises to never make him quit drinking. She has her own problems, naturally, but they seem to fade away in light of Cage’s desperation. Their interaction does provide some lightheartedness to the film, but those moments only serve to temporarily subdue the nature of Cage’s mission. He has had enough with life, and wants to end it in his own unique way, and there’s not a damn thing anyone will do to stop him. No chance of redemption or starting over. No catharsis. Just liver disease and alcohol poisoning.

 

16. Lilya 4-Ever (2002, Lukas Moodysson)

lilja-4-ever-2002

What makes it depressing: Murphy’s Law. Everything will go wrong.

The movie starts of happy. Lilya, a 16-year-old Estonian girl, is planning to move to America with her mother. At the last moment, her mother decides instead to leave her behind for now and bring her to America later. Lilya is devastated. Then Lilya’s landlord kicks her out of her mother’s old apartment and into a tiny one where hardly anything works.

Her teachers treat her like a failure. Local boys treat her like a slut. Her mother later disowns her as a guardian. She has one true friend, a young boy named Volodja.
Things seem like they’re about to turn around when she falls for a boy who wants to bring her to Sweden, to live and work there.

When she arrives in Sweden, she is locked in her apartment and thrown into sexual slavery, forced to sleep with a different john every night. The only time she can escape this hell is when she dreams of seeing Volodja again in heaven—he swallowed a bottle of pills back in Estonia after Lilya left him behind. She wants these dreams to continue; they’re the only time she’s happy. So she manages to escape from her locked apartment, runs to a nearby bridge and jumps. Now she can play basketball all day long with Volodja in heaven.

No one anywhere in Lilya’s live cared for her. Her mother neglected her, the community spat on her, her boyfriend sold her as a slave. No one cared in any meaningful way if she was alive or dead. The only person who did was Volodja, and Lilya abandoned him, realizing she had done so only too late. Lilya was just another poor child from a poor country that no one gave a shit about.

 

15. Irreversible (2002, Gaspar Noe)

Irreversible

What makes it depressing: The name says it all. There is nothing we can do.

The narrative, told backwards through time, tells of a young woman who, after a party with her boyfriend and ex, gets brutally raped and murdered—perhaps the most emotionally devastating rape scene ever filmed. The boyfriend stalks Paris’s seediest underground clubs searching for the killer, yet another act of revenge. Eventually he and the ex are hauled off to jail after pancaking a man’s face with a fire extinguisher while, unbeknownst to them, the true rapist looks on. The young woman had earlier that day learned that she was pregnant.

The expression “le temps detruit tout,” (time destroys all), serves as a theme throughout the film. There isn’t one mistake from one individual that destroys anything. It’s just the progression of time. From the hardest of deterministic stances, there is no free will that can save mankind from its savagery, its knee-jerk rage, its self-inflicted destruction.

Noe includes dizzying camera swerves, rapid-fire edits, and guttural subconscious noise to further disorientate the viewers, as if the backwards travel of time, abhorrent violence, and denial of conscious thought are not disorientating enough. The rape scene is particularly depressing. Monica Bellucci is assaulted on the floor of an underground walkway. She reaches out, toward the camera, towards the viewer. Everything in your body wants to reach into the screen and help her, but you can’t. These actions are irreversible; there is nothing anyone can do.

 

 

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  • AЯCHIE MOOЯE

    Pfft! Not one Haneke or Catherine Breillat!

    • F S

      The lack of Haneke is the most soul crushing thing about this list…

    • Janet Lee

      You’re right. Every Catherine Breillat film made me feel like I’d been punched in the stomach!

  • Jeremy Stewart

    Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance should be on here rather than Old Boy.

    • Charles Barnes

      Whilst Mr. Vengeance certainly deserves a spot on a place like this, and is absolutley a film worth seeing, its absence is no reason to dispute Oldboy’s worthiness.

      • Jeremy Stewart

        I’m not meaning to downtalk Oldboy, but I think Mr. Vengeance is by far the more soul crushing film in the Vengeance trilogy.

        • Charles Barnes

          I haven’t seen Lady, but yes, I’ll agree that Sympathy is more ‘nasty’ and ‘soul-crushing’ than Oldboy, which is also gut-wrenching in its own right.

  • Charles Barnes

    Requiem for a Dream has about as much depth as Reefer Madness, only it happens to be far better made.

    The fact that it gets the first spot over genuinely great works such as Irreversible or Oldboy is shameful.

    • Bubbz

      While I agree with the rest of your comment, “Requiem for a Dream has about as much depth as Reefer Madness” is completely wrong, as Reefer Madness is anti-drug propaganda without any kind of depth or truth to it, while Requiem, although a bit exaggerated, is inspired by true stories. And, before you start, I’m not an anti-drug person, but heroin (as well as several others) can ruin your life just as portrayed in the movie.

      • Charles Barnes

        I exaggerate out of passion, but regardless, I see it as nothing more than an elongated, well-made, anti-drug PSA.

        • HLLH

          Attacking Requiem but defending Oldboy, WTF.

          • Charles Barnes

            Oldboy was an original, intelligent, engaging, stylish, badass, and ultimately moving piece of work.

            It has some stigma attached to it as the 15 year old’s gateway into Eastern cinema (fuck the plebians trying to broaden their mindsets!), but I still find it to be a great movie, and one of my favourites for this century.

          • HLLH

            Mere shock value, and disgusting incestous revenge, it made me feel uneasy, I hate that film, but I agree with you with Irreversible, that is one of the best films of this century, truly impressive and moving.

          • Charles Barnes

            You know, I didn’t care much for Enter the Void. I found it all style, no substance. Slow, meandering and uninteresting.

          • Deadly_Moogly

            I have to agree regarding Enter the Void : I was expecting too much after Irreversible and have been disappointed : amazing feel/mood, but not much substance and quickly forgotten

            Requiem for a Dream, Irreversible and Martyrs are on my Top 3 completed [for different reasons] by La Guerre est Déclarée (Donzelli 2011), 4 luni, 3 septamani si 2 zile (Mungiu 2007), In Darkness (Holland 2011), Va, vis et deviens (Mihaileanu 2005), We need to talk about Kevin (Ramsey 2011), Schindler’s List & Amores Perros (Inarritu 2000).

            PS I prefer Spike Lee’s Old Boy over the original… I know, that’s kind of rare… but I just did’nt like that much Chan-wook Park’s trilogy…

    • lick.XXX

      Oldboy is an unoriginal rip off of the marquis de sade. Boring, predicable, and a drudge to get through. I hate it.

  • KySeR_s0z3

    I think confessions 2010 deserves to be there, it’s a Japanese revenge movie. It is so depressing and disturbing that I don’t suggest this movie to light hearted people.

  • Mikey O.

    Great list with few omissions: SCHINDLER’S LIST, WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, LONGTIME COMPANION, DANCER IN THE DARK, BLUE VALENTINE, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, SOPHIE’ S CHOICE, THE ROSE.

  • ask

    Funny Games?

    • Mikey O.

      Very “Soul-Crushing”!

    • I agree! They missed this one out.

  • Val

    Up, LBH.

    But seriously, Dancer in the Dark. The Hours. I cried a lot during (all three of) those.

    • Mikey O.

      Absolutely agreed on both!

    • Andrea

      Dogville, from von Trier, too!

    • Janet Lee

      Omg, Dancer In The Dark. I felt physically ill and died a little watching that film.

  • Ramtin KaZemi

    if you think The Road is a Depressive Movie! you should read the book then! the movie is nothing compared to the book!

  • Michael H. Smith

    Very pleased to see ‘They Shoot Horses’ on this list. Criminally under-appreciated, and under seen, masterpiece.

  • Kaygey

    Mike Leigh’s “Naked” is a glaring omission from the list.

  • Taban Khurram

    As an Indian I must add PYAASA by Guru Dutt. One of the best films of Indian cinema about commercialization and its effect on our society. The movie is in the Time magazine’s top 100 movies of world cinema list. Give it a try. It is really heart wrenching. The soundtrack is also awesome.

  • Mihai Meseșan

    How about “Biutiful” (2010)?

    • Tamara

      “Biutiful” was literally “soul crushing”, I remember I came out of the cinema desperate, I couldn’t speak for an hour, couldn’t stop the tears and I really don’t remember I’ve ever cried at he movie.
      Anyway, how about almost every Inarritu’s film? “21 grams”?

      • Syaiful Amri

        Couldn’t agree more.

  • I Am

    i feel synecdoche new york is also very depressing… and what about robert bresson’s movies? also paris, texas?

  • I Am

    missed bicycle thieves… also missed what i feel most depressing… decalog 5 (short film about killing)…

  • John Foytek

    I recommend the film “Kissed,” disturbing yet very provocative..

  • Jacqie Craddock

    I don’t know how the boy in the striped pajamas isn’t listed.

  • Kevin P. Smith

    I like the list. I might argue that a few Kim Ki Duk (The Isle, Bad Guy) or Chang-Dong Lee (Secret Sunshine, Oasis) films would be worthy of usurping Oldboy’s mention, but overall an interesting compilation.

  • abh93

    I guess it depends on how things effect you emotionally and maybe I’m too sensitive, but I wouldn’t recommend watching some of these, although I haven’t seen all of them. Freedom of expression is important, but sometimes I think filmmakers step over the line into territory that just shouldn’t be explored. A preview of Salo that I stumbled across by accident was enough to effect me very deeply, and wonder if a movie like that has any artistic value. I can’t judge as I haven’t seen the whole thing, but I just don’t see how anything could redeem a film with such disturbing content. Requiem for a Dream, I can’t even talk about how the final scenes made me feel. It effected my sense of the basic goodness of humanity, as did Irreversible – watching that movie is seriously irreversible, it will never be completely erased from your memory completely. I suppose there is a message in that, but I don’t think it’s worth the scars in my psyche.

  • RiSky RahmaLia Sofyan

    I recommend All About Lily Chou Chou, a 2001 Japanese film by Shunji Iwai to be considered as one of soul-crashing movie ever made. the deprecation and helpless apathy grows in a teenage boy’s mind really broke my heart.

  • Janet Lee

    An Indian film called Maya left me shattered.

  • Colicub

    I would have expected some Buttgereit on the list, personally. Schramm and Der Tödesking are just cinematic gut-punches. Could have also added Grave Of The Fireflies too.

  • cellchild

    Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

    • Nicolas Delattre

      Yes!

  • Brandy McNamee

    There is nothing even remotely funny or redeeming about Happiness. Anybody who’ll root for a middle aged man to rape a child is a sick f***. What is WRONG with you people? Jesus.

  • Brandy McNamee

    What they didn’t tell you is The Girl Next Door is based on the Jack Ketchum novel with the same title, which is based on the true story of Sylvia Likens, who was tortured and killed in 1965 in Indiana. That makes it all the more soul-crushing and deplorable.

  • E.V.E.

    You missed a plot point that makes it even sadder. It’s Lilya’s AUNT who kicks her out of her mothers apartment, the aunt that, you know, was tasked with taking care of her after her mother left. Her aunt kicks her out of the apartment so she can have it to herself. You also forgot the part where before she becomes a sex-slave prostitute, she has to prostitute herself after her aunt kicks her out in order to live and eat, and her classmates don’t just treat her like a slut, they rape her.

    Yeah, it’s a rough movie.

    • Janet Lee

      One of the reasons why this movie was such a shock to me was because I didn’t know what it was about and didn’t ‘prepare’ myself before seeing it. I thought it was going to be about a young girl from a poor area who goes to Sweden and has a better life… NO!!! Also, the previous Lukas Moodysson movie I saw was a comedy, so I was thinking ‘Lilja’ was going to be a light-hearted film.

  • Gabriel Gallardo Alarcón

    Dancer in the Dark.

  • Michael Josepho Kaiser II

    Ivan’s Childhood by Tarkovsky has got to be in the top five…

  • Mickey Flowers Dunkellicht

    Haneke’s Amour!

  • Brian Lussier

    Just about anything by Lars Von Trier should qualify: Breaking The Waves, Antichrist, Melancholia, and especially Dancer In The Dark. Should have been at least one of his films here. Brokeback Mountain, Black Swan (I understand you chose Requiem For A Dream instead, which is okay), and instead of The Mist or The Girl Next Door, I would have put Brian Bertino’s horror film The Strangers. One of the bleakest and most depressing horror films ever made.

  • Gines Velazquez

    Synecdoche new York

  • najrin

    Synecdoche, New York and Amour should be in the top ranks of the list.

  • Hoops Hooper

    Happiness is the funniest movie I’ve ever seen.

  • lmmurphy

    Tin Drum was the first movie I saw that I felt beat up when I finished watching it. It was so intense. My friends and I couldn’t even talk about it for a while.

  • Naveed

    Incendies
    Turtles can fly
    Thanks Maa
    My father, My son – 2005 turkish drama.

    • Brian Lussier

      Kiddos on Incendies! Hadn’t thought of that one, but it kept me depressed for days after my first viewing!

  • Axl Mihai

    I’d say The Heart is Deceiful Above All Things.

  • MrTired666 .

    Thought I would have seen more of the films on this list: Wild horses couldn’t make me watch A Serbian Film (and I used to watch everything from Rom Coms to Gore Fests). A few people have suggested Dancer In The Dark. I posit Breaking The Waves also by von Trier: its final shot implies a mystical maybe even religious release… but I was still left exhausted by the end. I wouldn’t trade the experience though. Same for Come and See; masterpiece! A bit left of field; watching The Sorrow & The Pity in one sitting. I remember doing so, shaking my head at humanity then getting drunk… I didn’t know how else to deal with it.

  • socialaddiction

    What about, “Candy” with Heath Ledger. Or “Happy Endings”? Also “American Beauty” was brilliant. Sick. Tragic. Sympathetic.
    Thanks for this list. Can’t wait to explore some of these movies. Great site!

    • CornbreadDamnitCornbread

      Candy depressed the hell out of me.

  • Paul Soare

    what about “the counselor”?

  • Raymond

    How dare you recommend A Serbian Film… How dare you.

  • Muto Ashirogi

    “Grave of the fireflies” beats all those films by a landslide.

  • Valdas Aleksandravičius

    Pan’s Labyrinth

  • Ashwin Sriram

    The Constant Gardener needs to be in this list. Made me cry by the end of it.

  • The life of David Gale, The Pianist, The Grey…

  • Qualiarella18

    pls, join this cinema forums

    http://www.welikecinema.com/

  • iyrie

    My heart felt utterly paralyzed just by reading the descriptions of Lilya-4-Ever.

  • Penny isafreeloader

    We need to talk about Kevin is , at it’s core, nurture vs nature. Kevin’s mother was much worse than you portray her- she never wanted children, she was never attached to him, not during the pregnancy, nor after. She felt he was a burden that ruined her life. And that’s the point of it all- pretty much an inner battle of hers- What is her fault, for not loving her kid, or was the kid badat his core? Or did the two clash? What is unsettling about it is the fears of motherhood openly expressed and (horrifically enough) realised.. And Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller were quite the pair to haunt your dreams forever.

  • Pingback: 20 Great Soul-Crushing Films That Are Worth Your Time | ELLEWORLD()

  • Bryton Cherrier

    I’m amazed nobody here has mentioned Killer Joe or The Road.
    Seriously.

  • buddychrist

    You kind of glossed over the problems Shue’s character faced in Leaving Las Vegas. That rape scene and what she does afterwards for Ben, despite the agony she is in, is possibly THE most soul crushing part of the film.

  • Jeremy Jeffers

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

  • Bwohahaha

    Leon; The Professional, Gran Torino, Saving Private Ryan, Million Dollar Baby, Gladiator, When Marnie Was There, Grave of the Fireflies, The Pianist, American History X, Schindler’s List, The Bucket List, Goodwill Hunting.

    • Xanian

      This just looks like you listed every film you’ve seen. Bucket List? Leon? Gladiator?

      • Bwohahaha

        Yep. Bucket List, Leon and Gladiator.

  • Sunny Maxim
  • lilyboosh

    Melancholia or Antichrist from Von Trier too.

  • Black

    Grave of the Fireflies deserves to be here. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to watch that film a 2nd time, that’s how bad it broke me :'(

  • lando

    spoilers alert

  • Dave Anderson

    The Plague Dogs…it’ll make you ashamed to be a human being, and if you’re a dog lover, it will fuck you up for life.

  • Clint Toshiro Kurosawa

    When the wind blows

  • Funny Games.

    Don’t watch it, please.

  • Pingback: Top 10 Soul Crushing Movies That Are Worth Your Time | Out There Cinema()

  • saquib hashmi

    antichrist and dancer in the dark???

  • xsploit

    Bad boy bubba?

  • Daniel Matos

    Tarnation by Jonathan Caouette broke me after the exhibition. One of the saddest films I’ve ever seen.

  • プラタニ川 セオドア

    Oldboy for ever

  • fujak

    I was really keen to watch Lilya 4-ever once i started reading the write up but by the time i’d finished i didn’t need to see the film any longer as you gave away the whole story!!!!

  • K.C. Fahel

    Am I the only one who saw “Revolutionary Road”? I refer to it as the best movie I’ll never watch again. I don’t think any movie has crushed my soul more. I don’t regret seeing it – the performances are top-notch – but I sincerely doubt I’ll ever see it again.

  • Nugraha Kusuma

    really? no Children of Men (2006) on the list. Great cinematography and script. I could cry over and over again just to watching the scene of baby crying
    .

  • acgogo

    “The Mist” underrated. Great ensemble cast. Devastating ending.

    “They Shoot Horses…” Wow. Haven’t thought of this movie in a long time. Captures the desperate and grieving soul of America during The Depression. Another great ensemble piece with terrific actors.

  • Tina

    well, I need a list for movies to watch while PMSing..

    can anyone suggest something?

  • Ozz Wald

    -Men Behind the Sun
    -Amour / 7th Continent / Benny’s Video / White Ribbon / Cache By Haneke
    -A Serious Man / No Country For Old Men by the Coens
    -Antichrist / Dogville / Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Tier
    -The Bridge (doc)
    -The Wrestler
    -I Stand Alone

  • Ozz Wald

    -Men Behind the Sun
    -Amour / 7th Continent / Benny’s Video / White Ribbon / Cache By Haneke
    -A Serious Man / No Country For Old Men by the Coens
    -Antichrist / Dogville / Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Tier
    -The Bridge (doc)
    -The Wrestler
    -I Stand Alone
    -Dogtooth
    -Michael 2011
    -The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
    -Angst
    -In a Glass Cage
    -Mystic River
    -The Snowtown Murders

  • Jeremy Martin

    I don’t think there can be a more subjective category of cinema than “soul crushing”. Any movie that leaves you weeping and hopeless by the end would qualify, but it often depends on your personal situation. Eternal Sunshine had the most devastating effect on me – but I watched it alone in a theatre while I was going through a painful & wrenching divorce.

    The most effective are those that present you with characters you like and can identify with, and then shows them being ground down and destroyed by forces they can’t control. For me definitely Lilya-4-Ever and Grave of the Fireflies would be up there…

  • Sara Oh

    Terry Gilliam’s Tideland ?

    • Juanelo Godinez

      yes mam

  • AloFuentes

    Zero Day (2003)

  • Jack Napier

    Ken Russel’s The Devils was similar to Requiem for a Dream to me in the way that it takes you from a high point and then enters a plummet that increasingly gains traction

  • Marios Seraskeris

    The skin i live in (2011),Paths of glory (1957),The White Ribbon (2009),Soylent Green (1973) some that came to my mind.

  • Daniel Carrera

    Lilya-4-Ever is ranked way to high. Top 5 for sure.

  • Deron Williams

    I never make that kind of comments since everyone is entitled to have his own opinion about a movie but Requiem for a dream has to be the most overrated film of all time

  • warrenzoell

    The Tenant.
    The Wickerman (1973)

  • Horacio Machado Flores

    I think Leviathan (2014) is missing from this list. Much harder and painful than several included.

  • Unkle Amon
  • Lal Narendra

    Very nice list.. 😀
    Pather Panchali is missing. That’s one of the most devastating films.
    Its Satyajit Ray’s classic.

  • chaneldeschanel

    This movie is rather unexplored.. but My Life Without Me really crushed my heart..

  • wi22y

    The Straight Story.

  • Awesome1984

    I’m sorry, if the films are worth my time WHY ARE YOU WRITING SO MANY SPOILERS? Seriously?

  • Syaiful Amri

    Biutiful

  • Walter Paisley

    Elia Kazan’s The Visitors and Herzog’s Stroszek need to be on this list.

  • Juanelo Godinez

    Gummo, Kids, Bully, The Master and the best of all, Enter the void changed my life, maybe I misinterpreted it, I don’t know, but that is the beauty of it. It changed my life

  • outlaw

    Great list overall, but how come the plot & most especially THE ENDING is given away on almost every film listed? That’s super disappointing & ruins the entire reason to see a film, especially the anticipation & REAL experience. I originally was attracted to this list & wanted to save it for the genre of film that was presented, but once I started reading (even about films I have already seen here) I was just shocked about how almost all of the films were ruined by what was being written – which was basically just a description – beginning to end. Instead of an inspirational tease to watch great art. One can write about film – even when you *might* expect your audience to have seen them all (which is obviously not quite realistic, anyways) without spoiling the movie. Why would I want to see some of them now that I know how it begins, what it’s entirely about & exactly how it ends? Certainly not exciting nor anticipatory anymore…takes away any kind of the storytelling that one sits down to watch a movie for to capture your attention as well as the mystery. Not to mention the personal connection when someone else describes it for you exactly, as now you have a very pre-conceived notion for the entire thing, which will lead the watchers’ experience to be flawed & judge the film differently, instead of having an organic, personal experience based upon their own ideas. It’s OK to subtly describe and/or holistically speak about a film in general…But am just super curious: was there a reason for writing about the films in this particular list, in this way? I’ve rarely seen so many plots, twists & THE ENDING just blatantly given away when one is encouraging people to see a film….Perhaps I missed a point, here?

  • Nicolas Delattre

    Dogville. Love (amour) from Haneke.