Popularity has surrounded Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” (2022) since it was released in December. The psychological drama follows Charlie’s (Brendan Fraser) attempt to rekindle his relationship with his daughter as he’s on the brink of death due to morbid obesity. If there’s one thing Aronofsky is good at, it’s creating impressive psychological films like these. Here are five more movies Aronofsky is part of via directing or producing to watch if that’s up your alley.
1. “Requiem for a Dream” (2000)
This thriller covers the impact of addiction across four different plots. Everyone is intertwined with Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), a heroin addict, in the middle of it all. His estranged girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and best friend Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans) are also addicted. Goldfarb’s mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn) is a widow, addicted to amphetamines and on an aggressively strict diet. The four of them are spiraling in their own ways, escaping death and looking for their next fix. They are all lost in their own tragic world. I have shown this movie to many, and much like “The Whale,” it’s sometimes only good for one to watch just because of how absolutely devastating it is. However, the punk-like filming with a fisheye camera and glitchy filters make up for how hard a watch it is. Nonetheless, it’s a film worth the watch, even if you can only stomach it once.
“Requiem for a Dream” is available for streaming on Tubi. You can watch the trailer here.
2. “Black Swan” (2010)
“Black Swan” follows Nina (Natalie Portman) who has a passion for ballet and will do anything to get to the top. She overworks her talent and eventually gets assigned the black and white swan in her dance school’s “Swan Lake,” but her competitiveness soon gets the best of her. She gets consumed by the rivalry between her and Lily (Mila Kunis), a newcomer and sudden favorite of the dance school’s director (Vincent Cassel). This creates delusion and confusion between what’s real and what’s in her mind. Without giving too much away, the ending is jaw-dropping. The cinematography in this movie is absolutely stunning as many scenes from Nina’s point of view allow us to witness her fight off both Lily’s attempted sabotages and her own thoughts before opening night.
“Black Swan” is available for streaming on Hulu. You can watch the trailer here.
3. “Some Kind of Heaven” (2020)
The Villages is a retirement community, closed off from the world in Central Florida. The film is focused on four residents living in the community as they seek to find happiness in a somewhat cult-like fantasy. Even though this is a real documentary produced by Aronofsky, therefore a true story, it’s still unsettling. The film shows drug use, dating and struggles that the residents undergo, despite advertisements describing The Villages as “Disney for Retirees.” The filming is very simple with raw footage and documentary-style confessionals, but we get to see opposite reactions and feelings toward the resort. Some love The Villages and some hate living there. But either way, viewers get to see what actually goes on after the synchronized swimming and golfing activities. Despite the creepy truth, the cinematography, such as high saturation and eerie zoom-ins allows “Some Kind of Heaven” to be enjoyed and addicting. This documentary gained so much good feedback, holding 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Some Kind of Heaven” is available on Youtube for $2.99. You can watch the trailer here.
4. “Pi” (1998)
“Pi” is yet another psychological thriller (actually filmed in black-and-white) revolving around number theorist Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), an unemployed man attempting to make sense of the world. He suffers from paranoia, schizoid personality disorder and hallucinations, making managing his day-to-day life difficult. One day, Cohen attempts to code his computer for stock predictions, which malfunctions and prints a constant, 216-digit number. After throwing away the paper and finding out the predictions were actually correct, Cohen spirals as he tries to find the printout. The number becomes his fixation as he uses religion, philosophy and all else under the sun to understand its pattern and how it relates to the order of the world. While trying to crack the seemingly random number, Cohen works with his mentor Sol (Mark Margolis) and a friend who’s infatuated with religion (Ben Shenkman) to fight off Wall Street from stealing his successful code for profit.
“Pi” is available on Prime Video for $4.99. You can watch the trailer here.
5. “Mother!” (2017)
The most interesting thing about this horror film is there are no real names for the characters. A woman, referred to as Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) spends every day renovating her Victorian house while her husband, referred to as Him (Javier Bardem), is a burnt-out poet. One day, a man (Ed Harris) shows up at their home and later becomes a guest overstaying his welcome. Sooner or later, the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and children show up and also make themselves cozy in the mansion. As the film progresses, more and more guests show up at Mother’s home uninvited. H has no problem with it, attempting to convince Mother everything is fine, causing a drift in their relationship, peace and safety in their own home.
“Mother” is available for streaming on Paramount+. You can watch the trailer here.
No two movies on this list are extremely alike, but all of them are masterpieces derived from or in part from Aronofsky, the mastermind behind successful psychological films like “The Whale.”
By Amena Ahmed