When the plot of a movie is simple, it does not mean the movie cannot be complex. With this thought in mind, here is a selection of movies that show how plot isn’t everything when we’re talking about cinema (even though some films on this list may not have a plot that is very simple).
It is never too late to remember that many things interfere when choosing the titles that are part of this article, but memory and personal preferences are the main factors. If you think any other movie should be on this list, please leave it as a recommendation in the comments section below. The movies are not ranked.
So, here are 10 amazing films that show us plot is not everything:
10. My Winnipeg (2007; dir. Guy Maddin)
With the ability to bring a very unique aura to his films that resembles the silent film era, Guy Maddin is a Canadian filmmaker who is one of the most interesting directors working today.
In “My Winnipeg,” he mixes history and fantasy in this combination of drama, comedy and documentary to tell stories from his hometown, Winnipeg.
With great cinematography and a very intriguing approach on editing, he is able to build a narrative that is truly unique. “My Winnipeg” is one of the best works in the career of Maddin and is a film that every cinephile should check out.
9. The White Balloon (1995; dir. Jafar Panahi)
Written by Abbas Kiarostami and directed by Jafar Panahi, “The White Balloon” follows the story of a little girl who is trying to find the money her mother gave her to buy a goldfish.
With strong performances and an amazing script, what appears to be a very simple story becomes full of very powerful moments with some very intriguing dialogue.
This film won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, an award given to the best first feature film, and is definitely a movie that is worth watching.
8. Journey to the West (2014; dir Ming-liang Tsai)
Another film that shows in an amazing way how plot isn’t everything is the film, “Journey to the West,” is directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Ming-liang Tsai.
The movie that has an approximately 50-minute run time follows a monk (Kang-sheng Lee) walking very slowly in the streets of Marseille, France. In the film, we see many long shots of the monk walking and even though the people around just watch him, he gets a follower (actor Denis Lavant, who appears breathing at the first shot of the film) at one point.
Although this film might seem simple, it is more proof of the intriguing slow-paced atmosphere Ming-liang Tsai is able to bring to his films, and that there is more to a film than its plot.
7. Tropical Malady (2004; dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul is one of the best directors working today. With movies such as “Blissfully Yours” (2002), the winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival; “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” (2010), which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes; and “Syndromes and a Century” (2006), he delivered some of the most interesting movies made on this century so far. In 2004, the movie “Tropical Malady” was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, one of the best films of his career (if not the best).
This movie that won the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival is another slow-paced masterpiece directed by Weerasethakul. With a very unique atmosphere and amazing directing, this is definitely a movie that shows how plot is not everything, and a film that every cinephile should check out.
6. The Mirror (1975; dir. Andrei Tarkovsky)
In one of the most complex films of his career (and let’s remember we’re not talking about a filmmaker that is famous for doing movies that can be considered “simple”), Andrei Tarkovsky delivers one of his most intriguing works.
Being loosely autobiographical, the movie has a very enigmatic structure and uses poems written by Arseny Tarkovsky, Andrei Tarkovsky’s father.
With very strong imagery, amazing long shots and astonishing cinematography by Georgi Rerberg, this is definitely a movie that shows how plot isn’t everything in cinema, and is a masterpiece that every cinephile should check out.