Philosophical Film Reviews, Philosophy and Film

“All good criticism should be judged the way art is. You shouldn’t read it the way you read history or science.” – Leslie Fiedler Below, you’ll find my films reviewed, alongside a short synopsis and three words to describe the philosophy that is discussed in each review. Take a closer look at films featuring troubled women.

Black Swan (2010)

This review is going to be a little different. Yes, it’s still characteristically dark, but it’s an altered version of a university thesis I wrote, and was the catalyst for the beginning of this very film philosophy blog. It focuses solely on Black Swan from a Jungian perspective, and so features philosophical ideas of the Self and the concept of ‘inner demons’ that Jung theorised so harrowingly about. *Spoilers throughout*. Demons, Sacrifice, Existential Crisis.


Byzantium (2012)

Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan (of one of my favourites, Hanna) star as centuries-old vampirical mother and daughter fighting for survival in the modern day. A dark film reflecting on how far a mother can go under the pretence of ‘protecting her child’ (See also: White Oleander), and the dangers of keeping a bird caged for too long. Originally posted here. Sacrifice, Growing Up, Mother.

Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, The (2013)

Courageous but damaged Charlie (Shia LaBeouf) leaves his home in favour of Bucharest, Romania, in search of something. Of what, we don’t know. But you can be sure he finds more than he ever imagined. Death, love, and everything else in between. Sacrifice, Death, Adventure.

Liberal Arts (2012)

Elizabeth Olsen stars in this realistic drama about a young woman feeling the strain of growing up too fast. Luckily she has the attention of equally troubled Josh Radnor. Oh yes. And their 16-year age gap. Age, Nostalgia, Destiny.

Village, The (2004)

A gorgeous study into the perils of attempting to stop human nature, a young blind woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) must venture into the heart of monstrosity and invert Hollywood formula while she’s at it. An unforgettable film about Sacrifice, Blindness, Human Nature.

End of Watch (2012)

A beautifully gritty film about two policemen – friends, partners, brothers – and their navigation of the mean streets of L.A. Combining a serious “buddy-flick” with realisitic ballistics, End of Watch shows how real men love one another. Friendship, Brotherhood, Family.

Unbreakable (2000)

A troubled man (Bruce Willis), in the middle of the breakdown of his life, realises he has powers beyond anything he could have imagined. David, along with his son and a comic book fanatic (Samuel L. Jackson), explores his inner potential and realises what it truly means to be a hero and – hardest of all – a father. Fatherhood, Heroism, Humanism.

Devil Wears Prada, The (2006)

An idealistic college graduate (Anne Hathaway) attempts to work for the fashion industry’s most ruthless and menacing figure (Meryl Streep) and finds herself changing into something – or someone – she never expected. The harsh reality of the working world takes Andy to a crossroad in her young life: be “successful” by becoming something she never wanted to be or, risking everything to stay true to herself. Integrity, personal limits, sacrifice.

Bachelorette (2012)

Three best friends (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher) come together to celebrate their friend’s wedding. Although jealous that they’re not the ones getting married, madness ensues when the three – under the influence of God knows what – destroy the bride’s dress and spend the night running around the city in an attempt to fix it. Friendship, jealousy, womanhood.

Beaches (1988)

Two girls meet by chance and form a fast and strong friendship, but after they’re separated and a myriad of things are thrown in their way, can they stay devoted to each other? Friendship, time, sacrifice.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

A deeply damaged woman (Elizabeth Olsen) escapes a manipulative cult and attempts to integrate with her sister. An already frayed relationship between the two sisters makes for a tragic and incredibly depressing end. Guilt, depression, anxiety.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

A beautiful young woman (Amber Heard) and a group of her “friends” are hunted by an obsessive killer. Hedonism, power, sexuality.

Burning Plain, The (2008)

A troubled woman (Charlize Theron) and her almost suicidal life collides with two others across the world (Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Basinger). Regret, love, pain.

Devil’s Advocate, The (1997)

An up-and-coming yuppie (Keanu Reeves) attempts to better his life by making a series of morally questionable decisions. He is a lawyer, after all. Power, greed, hedonism.

Malèna (2000)

A stunning Italian woman (Monica Bellucci) is persecuted by her townspeople because of her “threatening” beauty.  Jealousy, beauty, perseverance.

In the Bedroom (2001)

An elderly couple face a heart-breakingly tragic life as a result of one man’s actions. Revenge, grief, inner-strength.

Prime (2005)

Handsome young artist Dave (Bryan Greenberg) captures the romantic attention of a woman 14 years his senior (Uma Thurman). Age, love, time.

Whip It (2009)

…there’s not too much to think about, here.

Haywire (2011)

…there’s definitely not too much to think about, here.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)

This hilarious and nostalgic story revolves around two teenagers (Michael Cera, Kat Dennings) running around New York City with their best friends, trying to find their favourite band. Friendship, memories, adventures.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Another timeless classic about friendship that lasts a lifetime. Friendship, personal connections, happiness.

Big Fish (2003)

A classic and modern tale of a frustrated son’s journey through his father’s (Ewan McGregor) fantastic life. Parenthood, ‘reality’, time.

Insidious (2010)

…there’s not much too think about this (very good) horror film.

Easy A (2010)

…there’s not much too think about here with Emma Stone, but there are lots of questions about gender politics.

Life Before Her Eyes, The (2007)

A damaged young woman (Evan Rachel Wood) must decide whether to sacrifice herself or kill her best friend at the hands of a high-school shooter. Friendship, love, religion.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Two best friends (Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson) take a trip to Barcelona, Spain, and discover that their life plans/goals are worlds away from what they truly want.  Friendship, love, life goals.

White Oleander (2002)

A young girl must learn to survive independently and simultaneously escape the grasp of her manipulative, though torn, mother (Michelle Pfeiffer). Mother, independence, toxic family.

Lost in Translation (2003)

Two isolated and lost souls (Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson) are drawn to each other in another country. Soulmates, love, personal connections.

Hunger Games, The (2012)

A young woman must fight to survive for family by murdering other children in a sadistic tournament. What I learnt – survival of the fittest doesn’t count when you have friends in high places.

Hanna (2011)

A stunning film about adolescence, innocence and the importance of human connection. Friendship, beauty, life.

Dakota Skye (2008)

A misanthropic young woman with the power to detect any lie must confront her fear and mistrust of people, and learn to love. Truth, faith, trust.

Avengers, The (2012)

…there’s not too much to think about here. For in-depth philosophical, social, political and cultural deconstructions of some of your favourite and most interesting films – get in touch and send me a request.


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