When you’re watching a movie, you usually tend to trust that what you’re seeing on the screen is what the movie’s characters actually experienced or are experiencing. But that’s not always the case when an “unreliable narrator” is in the mix — a main character whose perspective might not be 100% stable.
Here are 6 great dramas and thrillers where things aren’t always what they seem, thanks to an unreliable narrator. But don’t worry, I won’t straight-up spoil any of them for you!
Gone Girl – In this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s buzzy bestseller, Ben Affleck stars as a husband who may or may not have had something to do with his wife Amy’s (Rosamind Pike — who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance) disappearance. As we learn more and more about this deeply screwed-up couple, it becomes nearly impossible to guess what really happened.
Atonement – Here’s another complex adaption — this one starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as star-crossed lovers, and Saoirse Ronan as Keira’s prying little sister. It earned 7 Oscar nominations for its twisty tale with a heartbreaking ending.
Tully – Charlize Theron stars as Marlo, a stressed-out and fatigued mom of both a newborn and a young son with significant social issues. Her rich brother pays for a night nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), to help carry some of the burden. Tully is a lifesaver for Marlo . . . until suddenly she’s not.
Shutter Island – Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo star as U.S. Marshals investigating a female patient’s disappearance at a remote facility for the criminally insane. Everything about this Martin Scorsese film screams “CREEPY.”
The Girl on the Train – A young woman vanishes, and Rachel (Emily Blunt), a train passenger, believes she might have seen something during her daily commute that could provide the investigating detectives with clues. But Rachel is an alcoholic who isn’t quite sure if she should even trust her own memories. Hmm.
A Beautiful Mind – When someone’s a genius, everyone knows they’re operating on another level. But in this true story about the life of the Nobel Prize-winning economist John Nash (Russell Crowe), even his own wife (Jennifer Connelly) can’t keep up with what’s going on in his head. See why it won 4 Academy Awards.
Oh, yes. Unreliable narrators pretty much guarantee a head-spinning thriller. Be ready to search for hints as to what’s really going on from the very first frame of all of these movies!