Sometimes a film can be astonishing yet too difficult to even consider watching it a second time. Whether the film is too real, gritty, or gory, these are components that don’t necessarily make the film unwatchable, but rather compliment the film too much so. These films aren’t necessarily made as a form of entertainment. Instead, these films function as exposes or raw representations of real-life or extreme circumstances. These films are typically aimed to make its audience uncomfortable and learn from its grittiness. Nonetheless, while these films provide tremendous takeaways, it is often too painful to endure another viewing of the film. Below are ten such examples of outstanding movies, but watching it once is enough:
Monster is about true-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Charlize Theron was so stunningly authentic in her Oscar-winning performance as Wuornos that it was often difficult to watch a film where her character was so mentally ill that she could rationalize her murder spree. The film is uncomfortable to watch primarily because Aileen Wuornos was a deplorable person and it is frightening to realize this film chronicles actions she actually committed.
The Wrestler (2008)
This is one of the most unforgiving films one could ever see due to the film’s raw emotion. The film reminds the viewer about the complexity of the human spirit and one’s mortality. The Wrestler offers the viewer no relief as we witness a pro-wrestler being denied what he loves to do due to his health and being subjected to a world that is unforgiving and not willing to give him a chance. The film is very much worth watching for its stellar acting, but this isn’t exactly a film that generates positive feelings afterwards.
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
“The Choice” scene in this film is perhaps one of the most haunting, most awful things you will ever see. The scene is so painful to watch that it’s all one can remember about this film. It is one of the most devastating scenes you will ever see.
Affliction is a film about a man’s (Nick Nolte) descent into madness, whose illness is intensified when his abusive father (James Coburn) reintroduces himself into his life. The film is an extraordinary case study of the human mind, but it doesn’t give the audience any breaks at all. We slowly witness the sanity of Nolte’s character slip away, while his father is one of the most deplorable, most revolting characters ever put on screen.
The Thing (1982)
There is no denying that John Carpenter’s The Thing is perhaps one of the greatest horror films of all time with Kurt Russell turning in one of the best performances of his career. However, if one can get past the film’s extreme gore and disgusting scenes, there is also the heartbreaking “Dog Kennel” scene that will make any dog-lover burst into tears.
Boy’s Don’t Cry (1999)
Boys Don’t Cry is the horrific and utterly tragic true-story of Brandon Teena, who was a transgendered male who was brutally beaten and raped after his gender was discovered. The police ultimately chose to be passive when the incident was reported, which added to the tragedy of the story when Brandon was viciously murdered. Boys Don’t Cry is an extremely important film, but one that is incredibly painful to watch.
Deliverance is a brilliant suspense film, but is also a deeply disturbing one. The infamous “squeal like a pig” scene is one that is hard to forget, nor does anyone ever need to see that scene a second time. Once was more than enough.
The Accused (1988)
Most people forget that Jodie Foster is a two-time Oscar winner, having won her first for The Accused. The film is loosely based off the true-story of Cheryl Araujo, who was gang raped at a bar in New Bedford, Mass, with onlookers nearby who did nothing and actually cheered on the rapists. When seeking justice in court, Araujo was subjected to the “blame the victim” defense, to which her friends and community ostracized her. Jodie Foster is incredible in this film, but the raw realism in this film is tough to endure, especially her rape scene, which is brutal, graphic, and heartbreaking to watch.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Blue Valentine is a stunning achievement of film, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it is one of the most miserable film experiences one could ever have. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple whose relationship is shown to the viewer in two halves that are spliced together: its beginning and its ending. Both characters are passive-aggressive, borderline personality individuals who are difficult to sympathize with at all. The film’s premise is about witnessing a relationship between two toxic people deteriorate rapidly, while hinting that the relationship’s beginning was fraudulent from its conception. Blue Valentine is an excellent film, but it makes one reconsider getting into a relationship.
American History X (1998)
Any movie that focuses on neo-nazis and its atmosphere automatically triggers a very uncomfortable movie experience. The racism from the vast majority of characters within this film is almost unbearable to watch. However, the film functions off a redemptive narrative, making the tough content of the movie somewhat easier to tolerate. Yet the viewer still has the rug pulled from under them cruelly with the film’s unfair conclusion. Nonetheless, Edward Norton offers the performance of a lifetime in American History X and the film is worth watching for him.