Schizophrenia is a terrible mental illness. However, some of the best films ever made have featured schizophrenic characters. From the Joker in The Dark Knight to Trevor Reznik in The Machinist, let’s talk about some of the best movies about schizophrenia.
15. Angel Baby (1995)
Angel Baby is one of the most renowned films about schizophrenia. Scoring over 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film garnered a lot of respect from viewers and people alike. 28 years after its release, the film is still one of the best about this mental illness.
It tells the story of two schizophrenic patients who fall head over heels for each other. They begin to think they’re made for each other—so much so that they stop taking their medication, and then the disaster ensues.
14. Take Shelter (2011)
Take Shelter is another movie that portrays the devastating effects of schizophrenia. This film came out in 2011, and it’s largely known for Jessica Chastain being in it, playing the wife. However, it’s Michael Shannon who truly steals the show.
His character, Curtis, thinks there’s a terrible storm brewing. At first, he thinks it’s just a nightmare, but then those nightmares turn into hallucinations, and he begins to think the terrible storm is inevitable.
13. Misery (1990)
Misery is another great film that shows the psychotic effects of this mental illness. Standing at around 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film came out in 1990 and now holds the status of a cult classic among its fans.
The film begins when a best-selling novelist meets an accident back his way home. Then, he begins to realize he has been taken prisoner by a fanatical fan. Soon, he realizes his fan is not what she seems to be.
12. Bullet (1996)
Bullet is another cult classic from the 90s, and it’s largely associated with Tupac Shakur being the lead character called Tank. The other cast members are quite renowned as well Mickey Rourke and Ted Levin, who plays Louis Stein—a Vietnam vet with schizophrenia.
While Levine’s character doesn’t have as much screen time as the rest of the leads, he still does justice to a war vet who might be going through this mental illness. Besides that, a great story makes it a definite must-watch for those who like neurotic movies.
11. An Angel at My Table (1990)
An Angel at My Table is another great film, but this Australian film didn’t garner much attention in The United States until the late 1990s. Thanks to streaming services, this film has now become a common name in neurotic thrillers.
Standing at over 95% Rotten Tomatoes ratings, this film is about Janet Frame and her turbulent childhood in New Zealand. On top of all this, it’s a true story based on the writer Janet Frame.
10. The Professor and the Madman (2019)
The Professor and the Madman is one of the recent films in the list of movies based on schizophrenia. While the film failed to gain affinity from critics, people loved it around the globe for its accurate portrayal of a lunatic suffering from the worst sort of schizophrenia.
It begins when Professor James Murray (Mel Gibson) begins to compile the first edition of what would become the Oxford English Dictionary. Soon, he receives an entry of 10,000+ words from a schizophrenic and an asylum called Dr. William Minor (Sean Penn).
9. The Soloist (2009)
The Soloist is a once-in-a-lifetime pairing of Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. Downey plays an enthusiastic journalist called Steve Lopez, who ends up befriending a homeless and mentally ill man called Nathaniel Ayers.
Now, this schizophrenic isn’t lunatic or psychotic—instead, he has outstanding musical abilities, which would put great artists to shame. Lopez begins to write about Ayers, and in a few articles, the life of both these individuals becomes intertwined and turns around.
8. Spider (2002)
Spider is widely hailed as one of the best acting gigs of Ralph Fiennes, right beside his work in Schindler’s List. This film came out in 2002, but it’s still going strong and holds a strong 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.
It begins when a mentally disturbed man dubbed Spider (Fiennes) takes up residence in his old family home. Soon, the memories of his childhood come back haunting, as he realizes his father might have been the murderer of his mother.
7. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is one of the greatest films ever made—period. There’s no denying this is widely acclaimed as Stanley Kubrick’s greatest work and perhaps the best work of Stephen King. Moreover, a lot of people think Jack Nicholson left nothing on the table in this film, either.
All these elements make The Shining one of the best films about schizophrenia, where the main character Jack (Nicholson), begins to lose his sanity over a series of events. Soon, things go from bad to worse, and we, as viewers, can feel its impact.
6. The Machinist (2004)
The Machinist saw Christian Bale take his usual shape-shifting abilities to another level. In the process, he lost a record 63-pound to portray the insomniac and schizophrenic machinist called Trevor Reznik, who loses his sanity as the days go by.
Unable to get any sleep, Reznik becomes obsessed with a man, who he thinks is following him everywhere. Soon, he begins to question the motives of everyone around him—including those who profess to love him.
5. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Requiem for a Dream is a story of drug addiction and how a simple habit can become life-threatening. Sara (Ellen Burstyn) gets widowed and decides to live a retired life—until she decides to lose weight with the help of pills.
The pills soon become an addiction, and it begins to have a strong effect on her mental health. The film shows the extremes of drug addiction, from simple weight-losing pills to harder drugs. This has made it one of the most renowned films ever made on the topic.
4. The Number 23 (2007)
The Number 23 is a testament to the acting abilities of Jim Carrey. We don’t often see him in roles where he isn’t goofy or playing someone who makes us laugh endlessly. In this movie, he plays Walter Sparrow, who questions his existence.
On Christmas, Walter is gifted a book called Number 23. Soon, he begins to realize the book might be about him as the similarities between him and the main character are uncanny. He becomes obsessed and begins to question his life altogether.
3. Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko is another film that has gained the cult-classic label over the years. While the film wasn’t exactly a box-office marvel, it stands at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s still widely hailed as one of the best films made on schizophrenia, time travel, and science.
It begins when a teenager, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), becomes obsessed with a bunny that only he can see. Soon, the bunny tells Donnie that the world is about to end in four weeks. This leads to a series of events that push Darko towards learning more about time travel and its traverse effects.
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
A Beautiful Mind is also one of the greatest films ever made and an Oscar winner. The film features a star cast of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Paul Bettany. Besides that, this film is based on the true story of John Nash.
It begins when Josh Nash (Crowe) takes an assignment rather unwillingly. The assignment is from William Parcher (Ed Harris), who wishes to exploit the brilliant mind of John Nash, a brilliant and schizophrenic mathematical genius.
1. Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island is one of the stars in the ever-prevalent career of Leonardo DiCaprio. It begins when Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is called to an asylum on a remote island with his fellow US Marshal Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo).
They are there to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient who vanished into thin air. Soon, things begin to unravel, and Teddy realizes that all may not be as it seems—as he is plagued by flashbacks of war and of his own life.
- Words on Bathroom Walls (2020)
- Repulsion (1965)
- Clean, Shaven (1993)
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