We Bet You Didn't Understand These Movies After Just One Watch
09th December, 2021
Warner Bros. Pictures
Filmmaking is an art that entails quite a bit of subjectivity. And this difference in perception is what compels movie buffs to keep rewinding and freezing frames, while some movies need complete rewatching. With brilliantly concealed easter eggs, intricate subplots, and abyssal character depths, who wouldn’t want to keep coming back?! Today, we’re going to talk about 20 prime cinematic examples that were so well crafted that a single sitting isn’t enough to wrap our heads around them.
We kick off our list with Christopher Nolan: a director who manipulates time in cinema like it’s silly putty. Tenet took us, and many other viewers, quite a few rewatches and breakdown videos to properly get what was going on. This temporal jigsaw of a movie is packed with top-notch cinematography and action sequences executed to perfection. Let’s not forget what John David Washington and Robert Pattinson brought to the table.
Next up is Primer, written and directed by Shane Carruth, who’s also known for the sci-fi drama Upstream Color and the horror flick The Dead Center. If you’re unaware of techy mumbo-jumbo, Primer is yet another complex puzzle that will take a couple of rewatches and a bit of jargon research. The dense and convoluted plot will leave you asking quite a few questions.
Director Florian Zeller takes us into the mind of a senior struggling with dementia. The Father becomes progressively confusing to the point where the audience is left wondering which parts were real. This poignant portrayal of a mental illness has shining performances by Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins.
Predestination is not based on the average time-twisty plot. Get ready for unexpected turns of events that will not only keep you at the edge of your seat but also compel you to watch the movie again. The movie can get disorienting as it unfolds, and it is also one of those few movies to feature intersex protagonist. Confused? Welcome to the club!
What makes Magnolia difficult to understand is its characters’ stories run in parallel. Such a carefully intertwined story with a star-studded cast, and exemplary performances from each one of them, demands not only your undivided attention but also a couple of rewatches. Don’t be fooled by the complex narration and frogs raining from the sky!
Inland Empire is an avant-garde David Lynch project that was designed to imbue incoherence. So, this movie is certainly not going to be a lot of people’s cup of tea. But that doesn’t mean Inland Empire should be missed at all! The camera angles are all in your face and very little is made clear on the first watch.
Another Nolan entry to our list is the 2000 head-turner Memento. The movie takes rather complicated twists and turns as it progresses. What makes the movie difficult to keep up with is, as a particular set of sequences are shown chronologically, others are shown in reverse order. The movie sure gave its viewers a hard time memorizing the parallel sequences.
The movie is Denis Villeneuve’s directorial debut starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Enemy is filled with a variety of abstract concepts woven together. But the ambiguous and metaphorical treatment makes keeping track of the plot quite cumbersome yet enjoyable. If you’re a psychology nerd, get ready to watch Enemy at least twice!
When actors like Jared Leto and Sarah Polley, who shot to fame thanks to Requiem for a Dream and Dawn of the Dead, respectively, are cast for a sci-fi/drama, audiences are in for a certain box office hit. But the structure of Mr. Nobody will throw you off, along really with a jumble of realities and flashbacks.
Vanilla Sky garnered quite a bit of box office buzz and was considered a commercial success. Sadly, this movie didn’t reel in audiences thanks to its intense script. On the first watch, you’ll be on a roller-coaster ride that tunnels in and out of consciousness, and the open-ended conclusion will leave you pondering what really happened. Thankfully, there are enough forums online to help us figure that one out.
The bait-and-switch twists in Shutter Island force the viewer to re-contextualize and rewind to certain scenes just to keep up with the plot. Although this movie is a rich experience even one second and third watch, it might be a bit overwhelming for some. What left audiences perplexed were Di Caprio’s conversations and open interpretations one is left with.
This sci-fi dramedy goes out to all the former and current cynical, curious, and slightly pretentious teenagers of the world! Although Donnie Darko bombed at the box office, it earned cult appreciation on its DVD release. Despite being based on a subject that many still find hard to wrap their heads around, this movie will pique your interest enough to make you watch it two or three more times.
Nolan’s strikes once again! And this time, we’re talking about one of his most successful films yet: Inception. Even if you understood this movie once, we bet that you’re excited to watch it again anyway! Without giving any spoilers, all we can say is that whoever watches Inception will oscillate through dreams and reality like a pendulum.
Ridley Scott proved to the world that even action-packed blockbusters can be sophisticated and timeless. Blade Runner is the only movie on this list that deals with the sentience of AI. While some might appreciate the thought process of this movie, others may find it confusing. Blade Runner is filled with easter eggs and clues that go unnoticed on the first watch, and rewatching to discover them is undeniably rewarding!
2001: A Space Odyssey
Of course, we’re going to have a Stanley Kubrick film on this list! Some movies are written to explore unfathomably new ideas and ask unanswerable questions, and 2001: Space Odyssey does it with such flair! Don’t expect anything in this exemplary work of art to be simple. The dialogs are minimal and the visuals are abundant, that’s all we can say.
David Lynch weaves three stories into one complicated plot in this 2001 movie. Mulholland Drive can get difficult to understand because it was originally intended to be a series. Packing together so many elements in a 94-minute movie will definitely leave first-time watchers in murky waters. You know a movie is difficult to understand when there are forums discussing its multiple interpretations even today.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Put simply, 10 Cloverfield Lane plays on forced perspectives, keeping audiences in the dark about what exactly is going on. From the get-go, this tight and tense thriller will surround you with suspicion over character intentions. Since this movie is part of a trilogy, we suggest watching 10 Cloverfield Lane in its correct order.
If you thought movies about first contact had lost their charm, you haven’t seen Arrival. This fascinating sci-fi drama will intrigue and confuse you, yet keep you glued to the screen. Although Arrival is quite the slow-burner as far as the plot is concerned, every element keeps you hooked and even makes you want to pause, rewind, and rewatch.
We’ve saved the best for last! And just like how we started, we end with a Christopher Nolan mind-bender—The Prestige. Hugh Jackman and Cristian Bale will leave you spellbound with a rivalry so deep and full of trickery that nobody can guess what happens next. Watch this movie closely, you’re in for a magical ride!