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The 15 Best Movies About Suicide

04 December 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Emiliano Serrano Lara

The Virgin Suicides

There have been several positions about suicide. Arthur Schopenhauer depicted it as a lie even in a world marked by suffering. David Hume regarded it as a legitimate alternative that shouldn’t scare us to consider. Though we can agree or disagree with any of these extreme positions, we can accept with Albert Camus that suicide shouldn’t be a matter of little considerations.

The subject of suicide has not been strange to movie fans. There have been a significant amount of productions that explore it from its implications to its consequences. There also have been films centered around the suicide representation as a matter of aesthetic interest.

Below is a list of 15 films about suicide. Some of them met a warm reception from the public while others gained a considerable cult status that has made them obligated references of the topic. Most of them have been controversial from their release not only because of the hardness of their topic but also due to their way of depicting it.

 

15. The Bridge (Eric Steel, 2006)

The Bridge

Inspired by an article of Tad Friend on The New Yorker, the Bridge is a controversial documentary that captures the suicides at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in the time span of a year.

Director Steel bet for a discrete shooting not only to avoid people who are willing to get a death covered by his team but also to get all the permissions he needed to carry on his project. He also interviewed relatives and friends of the people he shot without telling them about the footage he counted with.

While Steel faced charges for lying about his purposes, he assures that all the people he interviewed are currently happy about having taken part in his project. The Bridge was a box office hit and, though the press was unsure whereas call it sensitive or plainly insane, met overall acclaim.

 

14. Double Suicide (Masahiro Shinoda, 1969)

double-suicide

Regarded as an obligated reference of the Japanese New Wave Cinema, Double Suicide is a polished modern adaptation of The Love Suicides at Amijima, a Japanese puppet theater play by Monzaemon Chikamatsu about a couple of lovers driven to suicide due to the impossibility of their love.

Though the film’s classic story is no small matter to attract the viewers, the interesting thing about Double Suicide is its polished mixture of puppets and humans as well as its mix of modernity and classical theatricality. Double Suicide won three Kinema Junpo Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director that year.

 

13. Girl, Interrupted (James Mangold, 1999)

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted is an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir that chronicles her 18-month stay at a psychiatric hospital after taking an overdose of aspirin.

The film met mixed reviews and detraction from Kaysen herself, who regarded it as unnecessary melodramatic. Nevertheless, Angelina Jolie’s performance was widely acclaimed as she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

 

12. Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 1980)

Ordinary People

Robert Redford’s directional debut couldn’t have been better. It follows the Jarrets, a family trying to continue with their lives after the death of a son, something that will get harder after their surviving son returns home after a failed suicide attempt.

The film is an acid drama that depicts how a tragedy can reflect the problems people are not willing to talk about: lack of communication, misunderstanding, fear etc.

Ordinary People met overall acclaim and won a considerable amount of prizes including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

 

11. Last Days (Gus van Sant, 2005)

Last Days

This final installment of Gus van Sant’s Death Trilogy is meant to be based on famous rock star Kurt Cobain’s life. Nevertheless, Cobain’s followers regarded it as an insult to Cobain from the beginning.

Last Days, one of Gus van Sant most personal works, is a controversial tracing of the last days of Blake, a shy artist facing fame and desolation and eventually finding only one solution for a situation that has escaped from his hands long time ago. The film won the Technical Grand Prize at 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

 

10. Suicide Room (Jam Komasa, 2011)

Suicide Room (2011)

Polish film Suicide Room is an experiment about the self-destructive teenage angst in an over-accelerated world.

The film focus on Dominik Santorski, an inept and ghastly teenager who increasingly escapes from the humiliations he suffers from the real world. Reclusive and committed to the virtual world, Dominik develops a close relationship with Sylvia, an openly suicidal girl with whom he’ll finally be able to criticize the real world he doesn’t seems to understand.

Among other recognition, Suicide Room won a prize from the International Federation of Film Critics, and several awards from the 14th Polish Film Awards.

 

9. Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis, 1995)

(1995) Leaving Las Vegas

Nicolas Cage offered one of his most known and beloved performances in Leaving Las Vegas, a romantic tragedy based on John O’Brien’s homonymous novel about a slow suicide. The film follows the conscious downward spiral of self destruction carried by Ben Sanderson, a suicidal alcoholic.

Quite interested in the prostitute (Elisabeth Shue), with whom he has just started a relationship, Ben seems to be willing to finish his life with the means that ruined him from the very beginning: alcohol.

 

 

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  • Unkle Amon

    Couldn’t agree more about Der siebente Kontinent being #1 on list.

  • George

    what about Will Smith in Seven Pounds?

    • F S

      “Seven Pounds” is moralizing kitsch – nothing more.

  • Setna Strona

    What about “Dream with the Fishes”?
    Thanks for number 10.

  • Cinema270

    Great to see Malle and ‘Le Feu Follet’ (The Fire Within) getting some love. In my opinion, one of the greatest opening scenes in the history of film.

  • Prateek Sazawal

    You can’t have a movie list on suicide without Abbas Kiarostami. The Director apparently has a PhD in suicide philosophy.

  • William M

    I Stand Alone, Gaspar Noe. I have to keep from killing myself after I watch that one. Good call on anything Haneke really, as most of his films seem to deal with the topic.

  • Ted Wolf

    A Taste of Cherry?

    • Ray Ricardo

      great call!

    • Sam Khoie

      nice

    • Tural Mahmudov

      Yep

  • Ray Ricardo

    where’s M.A.S.H? the suicide is painless….

  • Jessica Johanna

    Before I disappear.

  • Matthew Humphrey

    Father of my Children… Goodbye Solo…

  • Jen Iris

    Imaginary Heros…directed by Dan Harris…stars Sigourney Weaver & Emile Hirsch….AMAZING story about how a family copes with the loss of their son/brother.
    My brother took his own life in 2007, and this flick really hit home.

  • Alex Nasaudean

    Surely La Grande Bouffe (1973) featuring a great ensemble cast of European stars should have earned a place here. Not having A Taste of Cherry in the top 3 is inexcusable. I Melt With You (2011) deserves an honorable mention.

  • Sam Khoie

    Arizona Dream

  • Sam Song

    The Devil Probably. Mouchette. Poetry (lee chang dong). The Sunset Limited.

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  • Diane Bellora

    The Hours

  • A.F.

    Magnus from Kadri Kõusaar

  • Brian Lussier

    I wrote a screenplay about a suicidal woman myself, and hopefully I’m going to direct it next summer. I’m not big on throwing flowers at myself, but I’m pretty proud of this one and think it might be great if I manage to get what’s in my head and on the page on the screen. Anyway… Good list!

  • PAS

    Wristcutters is surely missing to complete the list with a touch of humour, but The Seventh Continent is a great number one!

    • PAS

      Ah! and La Grande Abbuffata by Marco Ferreri!

  • Sourav Deb

    and no one mentions Peppermint Candy by Lee Chang-dong?

  • Melissa Renee Pilgrim

    Sophie’s Choice

  • Andre Troesch

    A Man Who Went to Mars (2003)

  • Alexandro Sifuentes Díaz

    “The Sea Inside” could count as another for this list ?

  • Ivan R. Muñoz Rubio

    What about “Last life in the universe”?

  • NoTimeToWatch

    Lilja-4-Ever

  • greenperegrine

    Where is Oslo, August 31st? Hollywood used to make good movies back in the days but not now. This list is very subjective.

  • Claudine S. Kahan

    Thank goodness, Feu Follet (The Fire Within) was in there. Still the best to my mind.

  • Zabriskie

    Mouchette!

  • Tural Mahmudov

    Bresson – Mouchette???

  • Tural Mahmudov

    …and Bresson – Gentle Woman

  • kaj

    You miss one of the best: Downloding Nancy

  • Agata Leon

    “please kill me” should be on this one

  • AЯCHIE MOOЯE

    No “Faces Of Death” which, apparently, had real suicides. Half were fake though.

  • Aleš Prelog Volk

    The Last supper – great slovenian movie 🙂

  • Wristcutters: A Love Story

  • FunnyFaceKing

    Both Harakiri (1962) and it’s remake, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011), are both excellent films that should be on this list.

  • Josh Busfield

    seen the popular one’s, about to get “Suicide Room” now. Best song about Suicide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij5TfkKrL1I

  • Matvey Bossis

    Skeleton Twins

  • jason tsi

    Angel of Nanjing is an amazing documentary that just came out about a man who has saved over 300 people who have tried to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge in China…
    https://itunes.apple.com/…/mo…/angel-of-nanjing/id1077044961
    Must watch!!