On the night of the Oscars 2023, an event took place that happens more and more rarely in the world of cinema, that something in front of which we can do nothing but be ecstatic: the quietest film of all triumphed. The Whale, phenomenon of recent months directed by Darren Aronofsky, has brought home “only” two statuettes and the absolute respect of the whole world. The oppressive drama starring a tormented Brendan Fraser (recently returned to the Hollywood spotlight), in an era where color and exaggeration are the masters among those who jostle to bring home the great new product, has demonstrated That the masterpiece can be silent. Gloomy, quiet, which goes almost unnoticed. But it’s not the only one: the cinema is dotted with small jewels often crushed by bulkier neighbors, some more recognized than others. We would have to talk about it for hours, but for now we are content to advise 5 movies you should definitely see if you loved The Whale. Guaranteed tears.
1) Three posters in Ebbing, Missouri
Let’s open the dances with a classic. Three posters in Ebbing, Missouri is certainly one of the cinematic phenomena of 2017, as well as the film that allowed Frances McDormand to win her second Oscar for best actress. In the film, the woman plays Mildred Hayes, a divorced mother who seeks revenge for the death of her teenage daughter Angela, raped and burned alive. Death that still does not know a culprit. Mildred, furious at the immobility and apparent disinterest that the city seems to have towards the story, rents three posters just outside Ebbing, Missouri (hence the film’s title), powerful tools of denunciation and accusation but above all a last desperate attempt to give justice to his daughter. Three posters in Ebbing, Missouri it is first and foremost the story of a mother: it is the unique and indivisible relationship between parent and child that gives motion to the narrative, a narrative that is engaging yet alienating from the first minute. A story of love and suffering, a story that teaches, just like The Whale, how far we are willing to go for the people we love. For better or for worse.
There are films that weigh, move, strike. And then there are movies that kill: Precious it is one of them. Presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009 and won two Academy Awards the following year, Precious it’s one of those films that you can’t watch too often, a film that should have a warning label like drugs: because it hurts, it really hurts. The film stars Precious, an obese and almost illiterate teenager, who in an infamous and sad Harlem has to live with her violent mother Mary and her daughter, born of a rape suffered by her father. Precious it’s ugly, dirty, depressing and at the same time unnervingly true. It gives space with enviable power and attention to everything about society that we would just like to forget, placing the broken, the sick, the defeated in the spotlight. Those who in traditional films are on the edge of the scene, with their back bent and their gaze dull. You will leave devastated, but it is really worth it.
3) The Father
We had already talked about The Father about its extraordinary long shots, which have consecrated it as one of the most technically powerful films of recent years. This time we focus on something else, because The Fatherin the wake of The Whale, manages to put a tormented father-daughter relationship center stage in a totally unexpected way. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman continually take turns to bring to life a masterpiece the likes of which have not been seen in a long time. The Fatherdirected by Florian Zeller in his directorial debut, is a masterpiece of illusion: a man suffering from senile dementia finds it increasingly difficult to separate reality from what he perceives as such and we viewers, just like him, find ourselves stuck in a dead-end story, suffocating to the extreme and terribly moving. Because, once again, like almost all the films in this article, we are shown that the real force that moves the world is love, in all its forms: a feeling that goes beyond physical incapacity, the scars of life the inability to meet each other. And he wins, despite everything.
At first glance, what unites the most The Whale to a movie like Swallow it is the tormented relationship with food. The truth is that there are too many similarities with the psychological thriller directed by Carlo Mirabella, and all of them heavy as a boulder. Primarily, boundless self-loathing. Hunter is a young housewife who lives in the shadow of herself trapped in the role of ideal wife and, subsequently, mother: from one day to the next she develops a particular compulsion to say the least which leads her to ingest inedible objects of any form. and gender, going so far as to endanger his health. It is trauma, particularly childhood trauma, that dominates a film that aesthetically seems to be the antipodes of Brendan Fraser’s masterpiece but which, digging underneath, reveals itself to be disturbingly similar. Swallow hides thanks to the guise of a thriller and brings to the stage a tragic and therefore human detail, common to so many of us: who are we really in front of our parents? If it’s true that movies are made to teach something, we have no doubts about what Swallow e The Whale try to communicate to us: we are really destined to pay for the sins of our fathers.
5) Happy birthday Mr. Grape
We close with a bittersweet masterpiece, a film that has become a cult in its own right and a must of the nineties. Based on Peter Hedges’ novel of the same name, Happy Birthday Mr. Grape stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp as Arnie and Gilbert, two brothers who live with their obese and depressed mother in a small Iowa town. Gilbert’s life revolves around that of eighteen-year-old Arnie, who suffers from a severe form of autism, and both try to make their way in the world against the backdrop of a depressing America, bigoted and immobile in its irrelevance. Happy Birthday Mr Grape it is above all a complex family tragedy, as simple as it is incisive. And it works so well precisely because of its ability to tell a banal, common story, such as you see so many in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
It’s movies like The Whale, Precious e Happy Birthday Mr Grape to give us a little hope even where it seems impossible to find it, and to remind us that it doesn’t matter where we’re from, what we’ve been taught, or who we think we’re meant to be. In the end it matters much more how we decide to move forward.