From Lynch to Polanski: Looking Back on Some of the Best Psychological Dramas

When it comes to my favorite films, psychological dramas have always attracted and enticed me the most. I tend to fall in love with films that focus on the interior and psyche of their subjects and filled with the unstable and troubled emotional states of their characters. Usually merged with thriller, horror, mystery, or crime, this genre of dramas tells subjective stories through an objective lens, allowing the viewer to have a necessary distance from the obscurity of the character’s world while penetrating their mental landscape.

Dealing with issues of distorted realities, questions of identity, and the link between sex and death, these films tend to be visually rich, using a cinematic sleight of hand to bring the audience into a character’s frame of mind in a way that’s visceral, sensual, and disturbing. And this week, we’ll see the release of Danny Boyle’s hypnotic Trance, Shane Carruth’s confounding Upstream Color, and Antonio Campos’ haunting Simon Killer. To celebrate these psychological drama, here’s a handful of their iconic predecessors. From David Lynch’s ravishing masterpiece Mulholland Drive to Darren Aronofsky’s dizzying Black Swan, here are some of our favorites. Enjoy.

Mulholland Drive, David Lynch

Fight Club, David Fincher

Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick

Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky

Persona, Ingmar Bergman

Lost Highway, David Lynch

Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah

Three Colors: Red, Krzysztof Kieslowski

Crash, David Cronenberg

Blue Velvet, David Lynch

The Conformist, Bernardo Bertolucci

Satan’s Brew, Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Autumn Sonata, Ingmar Berman

Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese

Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky

Spellbound, Alfred Hitchcock

Memento, Christopher Nolan

Repulsion, Roman Polanski

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