10 Great Movies Where The Protagonist’s Psyche Deteriorates

Regardless of genre, each film sees the protagonist experience an event that affects them to the point where their sanity declines on many levels. However, films that make this their focal point create a deeper perspective where the mental state is not the only thing that changes. Over time, the inner battle of the subconscious translates into impacts on relationships, careers, life goals, and an overall shift in the character’s worldview.


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The deterioration of the psyche can be portrayed in many ways; through a clever lens, a horror story, a recovery story, or a story of complete disappearance – these are often the main interpretations that attempt to capture a truthful experience. When life gives you lemons, sometimes things go wrong – these films focus on the protagonist’s psyche which deteriorates as the film progresses, from fight club at Black Swan.

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“Fight Club” (1999)

A classic cult movie that probably comes to mind when thinking about self-deterioration is David Fincherit is fight club. An existential crisis seizes the narrator (Edward Norton) as he develops a severe case of insomnia. The less he sleeps, the more his current view of the world becomes distorted.

His work becomes banal and too predictable; her Ikea-filled apartment no longer fills a void, and her stores of empathy are nearly empty. The rejection of the capitalist “rat race” comes after meeting the suave Tyler Durden (brad pitt), where the narrator’s safe life is martyred under Tyler’s eye-opening worldview. As the narrator becomes lost in Tyler’s anarchist teachings, Tyler becomes the singing and dancing leader of a rebellion.

‘Mulholland Dr.’ (2001)

Mulholland Dr.As fight club, features commentary on everyday life, insisting that the normal world is not what it seems, this time focusing on the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts) has just arrived in Los Angeles to broaden her career prospects when she reunites with Rita (Laura Harring) in his aunt’s apartment, unable to remember his identity after a car accident. The film follows the women as they bond, with Betty helping Rita regain her memories.

However, the deceptive connections between them and other characters – like director Adam (Justin Theroux) and his coercion into casting an unknown actress in his film – begin to unravel the characters’ identities. A film that cannot be easily explained, Mulholland Dr. could be a dream or a reality – a paradox on celluloid that could send you into a spiral.

‘Taxi Driver’ (1976)

Martin Scorseseit is Taxi driver immerses viewers in the alienated life of Travis Bickle (robert deniro), a Vietnam War veteran who consequently struggles with PTSD. As a result, Travis finds himself unable to connect with anyone and, struggling to sleep, he works night shifts as a taxi driver to meet his social needs.

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Through his walks in New York, Travis develops a hatred for crime and thrives on the idea that he can clean up the city. As his sanity rapidly declines, his sense of heroism intensifies, leading him astray with threatening behaviors around New York and an obsession to “save” a young prostitute (Jodie Foster) of a life of injustice.

‘Eraser Head’ (1977)

Surrealism helps mental deterioration eraser head—a horror film with impact. The shy and anxious Henry Spencer (Jack Nancy) discovers that he has a child with his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stuart) and suddenly finds himself projected into fatherhood, but being a dad exceeds all expectations when the child is barely human. When Mary comes out, it’s up to Henry to tend to the deformed baby who’s struggling to breathe.

Left alone with the baby, Henry sinks into mad hallucinations. East eraser head a wacky interpretation of the fear of fatherhood? A metaphor for the suppression of trauma? A story of disconnection and death? Director David Lynch refuses to express any meaning, allowing viewers’ minds to race with domestic chaos.

‘Joker’ (2019)

The juxtaposition between a man dressed as a clown and a clown who kills is partly what makes Joker so thrilling and psychologically engaging. by Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) The spiral into one of the most infamous villains stems from his declining mental health following his struggles with poverty, a lack of success in his career, and a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate times. .

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His social awkwardness holds him back from people who connect and understand him, isolate him and allow him to get angry with the world. Arthur’s attempts to humanize himself have dehumanizing consequences, allowing viewers to see a backstory of Batman’s nemesis.

‘Candy’ (2006)

The fall in mental state is brutal and that caused by drug addiction is inevitable. Candy explores exactly that in a poetic haze, filled with love and addiction. Both Dan (health book) and Candy (Abbie Cornish) transform when their co-dependency on drugs and each other leads them to resort to a lifetime of violence, crime, and toxicity to achieve their next euphoria.

As their need for heroin grows stronger, their relationship reaches a breaking point fueled by anxiety, resentment, and lackluster attempts at normalcy.

“Interrupted Girl” (1999)

girl interrupted is a film that overturns the idea that a mental hospital will help your mental state through admiration and connection with others in the same boat. Susan (winona ryder) is a young woman admitted to a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide, believing she was fine.

There she befriends Polly (Elizabeth Moss)—a victim of self-inflicted burns; Georgine (Clea Du Vall)—a pathological liar; Daisy (Brittany Murphy)—who suffers from OCD and laxative dependence; Janet (Angela Bettis)—an anorexic and easily amused Cynthia (Jillian Armenante). However, it is his infatuation with the notorious sociopath leader, Lisa (Angelina Jolie), that Suzana is drawn to the idea of ​​never getting better.

“Requiem for a Dream” (2000)

As Candy, Requiem for a dream follows the destruction of his life at the hands of drug addiction. Three friends—Harry (Jared Leto), Tyrone (Marlon Wayan), and Marion (Jennifer Connelly) – sell and use heroin as they dream of a better life, open a clothing store and seek approval from their family.

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The short time the world makes sense prompts the trio to return to the wallet-burning, life-altering habit. Meanwhile, Harry’s obese mother, Sara (Ellen Burstyn), spends her days watching television, where she is influenced to abuse amphetamines to lose weight. Requiem for a dream presents the idea that addiction, in any form, tears individuals from any sense of reality and destroys everything around them.

‘American Psycho’ (2000)

With a title like American psycho, viewers can safely assume that the plot follows a somewhat disturbed individual. Apparently just your average investment banker, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), is absorbed in the social politics of the upper class circle he surrounds himself with, namely, who has the best business card.

However, as night falls, Patrick sheds his charismatic skin and wields weapons, searching for victims in his serial murder scheme. Unlike most of the films above, America Psycho features an already mentally unstable character who spirals into madness to the point that no one recognizes what is happening as the credits begin to roll.

“Black Swan” (2010)

Black Swan is the crown jewel of movies centered on obsession and psychology. Career-focused ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) becomes obsessed with her role as a duo in Swan Lake, where she has to embody a sweet white swan Odette and the sultry black swan Odile.

His compulsion only intensifies when newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) is opposed to her, causing Nina to fall down a self-sabotaging rabbit hole, losing herself in her art. The main point of the film is that some desires for perfection can be self-destructive, even deadly.

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