Top 50 ‘feel bad’ films Part 5: 30-26
Hello and welcome back to another instalment of the top 50 feel bad films of all time. Without further ado, here is umbers 30 to 26.
Director: Paddy Considine
Plot synopsis: Joseph (Peter Mullan), a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah (Olivia Colman), a Christian charity shop worker.
Why it’s feel bad: Joseph is a raging alcoholic who, in the first scene, kicks his only companion, his dog, to death, while Hannah has a traumatic home life at the hands of her husband James (Eddie Marsan), a despicable character who beats, torments and rapes his wife,
Happy ending? Joseph discovers James’ dead body, killed by Hannah, and she goes to prison. Joseph, after seeing a young child on his street mauled, kills a rabid dog, and becomes something of a national hero, while still visiting Hannah in prison, ending a brutal, disturbing film with a somewhat redemptive note.
The Proposition (2005)
Director: John Hillcoat
Plot synopsis: Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) apprehends notorious outlaw Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and gives him 9 days to kill his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston), or else they’ll execute his younger brother Mikey (Richard Wilson).
Why it’s feel bad: Aside from the fact that Charlie has the film to decide which of his brothers he wants dead, The Proposition also features one of the most gruelling whipping scenes ever, as the young, naive Mikey is tortured by Stanley. It’s already a violent, morally corrupt film, but this scene really tips it over the edge.
Happy ending? Charlie and Arthur attack Stanley’s house and prison to rescue Mikey but it’s too late: he dies from his injuries. After realising Arthur cares more about violence than his younger brother, Charlie kills the remaining members of Arthur’s gang and Arthur, sitting with his brother as he dies in the sunset.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Plot synopsis: Determined Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) works with hardened boxing trainer Frankie (Clint Eastwood) to become a professional.
Why it’s feel bad: For half the film, it isn’t, as Maggie rises up the ranks and becomes a huge star, but during a fight with a notoriously dirty fighter, Maggie is hit with a sneak attack and lands on a stool, making her a quadriplegic and bed bound.
Happy ending? Despite objections from his priest, Frankie helps Maggie to die, but not before revealing he always cared for her more than she thought.
Director: Andrzej Żuławski
Plot synopsis: Anna (Isabelle Adjani) leaves her family for an unspecified reason. Husband Mark (Sam Neill), determined to find out the truth, starts following his wife. Gradually, he discovers bizarre incidents that indicate something more than a possessed love affair.
Why it’s feel bad: Both actors give physically draining roles, and portray one of the most dysfunctional break ups of a marriage ever shown on screen. She brutally inflicts wounds upon herself while he screams and cries and takes drugs and generally spirals into chaos. There’s also a disturbing, utterly fucked up twist that I won’t spoil, but will make you feel either confused or repulsed. Most likely both.
Happy ending? After being followed by the police and discovering Anna’s secret ‘lover’, both he and Anna are gunned down in a violent and brutal climax.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Plot synopsis: The film centres on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.
Why it’s feel bad: Even more so than Possession, Blue Valentine is the most depressing portrayal of a marriage breaking up ever shown on screen. We start at the beginning, where husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) offers short term, and needed, support, despite the tough circumstances wife Cindy (Michelle Williams) is in, and end with her realising she doesn’t love him anymore.
Happy ending? Dean tries to reignite the spark but it is too late, and he walks away from his family a broken man.
Thanks for reading, and see you next time for part 6!
By Harry Ford