Top 50 feel bad films Part 2: 45-41
Hello, and welcome to part two of my countdown of the 50 most ‘feel bad’ films in history. No introductions needed, let’s continue on with the countdown!
Director: Rian Johnson
Plot synopsis: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis).
Why it’s feel bad: The main subplot involves older Joe tracking down and killing the little boy who will grow up to kill him, which involves Joe murdering young children. Also, Joe’s friend Seth (Paul Dano) is tortured in the present, which involves future Seth suddenly becoming deformed and losing his limbs…
Happy ending? Joe shoots himself to close the loop and save numerous other loopers, which almost makes it a happy ending, except his entire life and memories are wiped out and our main protagonist dies fairly abruptly. Perhaps one that is happier for the characters than the audience…
Director: Abel Ferrara
Plot synopsis: While investigating a young nun’s rape, a corrupt New York City police lieutenant (Harvey Keitel), with a serious drug and gambling addiction, tries to change his ways and find forgiveness.
Why it’s feel bad: Keitel is one of the most wrecked characters in film history, wandering through the film taking incredible amounts of drugs, masturbating to girls he’s pulled over and, in a staggering scene, screaming at Jesus.
Happy ending? After a late act of redemption in which he gives two young criminals a fresh start away from the city, the Lieutenant is shot dead. He may be a terrible criminal, but at least he had one good moment.
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Plot synopsis: Paul (Ryan Reynolds) is a U.S. truck driver working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Why it’s feel bad: Paul is a nice, relatable character, so to see him struggling to survive in a coffin for 90 minutes is a tough watch.
Happy ending? The embassy visits the wrong grave site and Paul is left to suffocate as sand fills the coffin. No happy endings to be found here.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Plot synopsis: Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande, and is pursued by a calculating hitman (Javier Bardem).
Why it’s feel bad: Hitman Anton is good at his job; just about every likeable character in the film is murdered by him in brutal fashion, from hunter Llewelyn to his wife (Kelly Macdonald), leaving Sherriff Ed (Tommy Lee Jones) disillusioned with the way of the world.
Happy ending? Anton leaves without a trace, leaving Ed feeling older and more confused than he’s ever felt. By far, one of the least happy endings to an Oscar winner there’s been.
iLL Manors (2012)
Director: Ben “Plan B” Drew
Plot synopsis: A few days in the lives of four drug dealers, one user and two prostitutes, as they try and cope in a drug and crime filled London.
Why it’s feel bad: iLL Manors is the definition of a heavy film, with child murders, copious drug abuse, baby abandonment and prostitution. It is grim, grimy and realistic, making it socially relevant but overbearingly bleak.
Happy ending? Aaron (Riz Ahmed), the main protagonist and somewhat moral compass of the film gives in his drug dealer friends to the police and leaves London, to end the film on a note of redemption.
That’s all this week, join me next week for part 3 of the 50 most feel bad films of all time!
By Harry Ford