Oct 25th, 2023, 10:00 AM

Tragedy is Out, Validation is In

By Paloma Kluger
Exterior of the MK2 Odéon cinéma
Exterior of the MK2 Odéon cinéma. Image credit: (Lilly Mildenberger)
5 movies that disrupt the mental health taboo.

We are all familiar with movies that disrupt the silence on mental health. Who can forget big, dramatic stories like Dead Poets Society and A Star Is Born? However, why do so many of these films have to end so tragically? If you’re looking for a movie to find comfort and reassurance in without having to replenish your tissue box, you’ve come to the right place. Films such as these both validate mental health issues as well as open the door to conversations about previously taboo subjects.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

To briefly recap this film: a man with bipolar disorder has just returned home after several months of in-patient treatment and struggles to adjust to a new life living at his parents' home and coping with the rupture of his marriage. This bittersweet story stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, features football superstitions and even ends at a dance competition. Plus, Robert De Niro makes a special appearance. This movie will leave you finding the silver linings in your own life and yelling “excelsior!” in moments of rejoicing. What’s not to like?

Dear Evan Hansen (2021)

Although beginning with a traumatic event, this movie musical flips the idea of mental health on its head. After the death of a classmate, an anxiety-riddled teenager, Evan, gets caught in a major lie in an attempt to feel like he belongs and to cope with his own struggles. While attempting to change his narrative and be noticed in the world, the film's protagonist discovers that such a fantasy cannot last forever. Ben Platt stars in the same role he debuted in the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name, alongside Kaitlyn Dever and Julianne Moore. The music is compelling, the humor is dark, and the story revolves around the song, “You Will Be Found." This film will leave you hopeful about tomorrow.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A bright mathematician, John Nash, discovers that his perception of the world is vastly different from the way it truly is when he meets a new friend and begins an “undercover” assignment. Although traumatically thrown for the loop, viewers discover that living with a mental illness does not have to become the cage several films paint it to be. Starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, this movie will make you question your own sanity as well as be grateful for hope and optimism.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

After a family tragedy occurs, a young girl competes at the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant. During the more than chaotic road trip in a decrepit van, a teenage boy makes a breakthrough, a marriage ruptures, and a family member is left in a trunk. Starring Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Steve Carell, this film disregards the traditional family ideal and highlights the power of humor and love in an otherwise traumatic moment of a little girl’s life.

28 Days (2000)

Starring the romantic comedy icon, Sandra Bullock, this movie depicts a woman’s journey through in-patient rehab, throughout, well, 28 days. During her journey, the protagonist finds true friendship, relinquishes the toxicity in her life (including a destructive boyfriend), and finds peace in her current state. Plus, viewers witness Bullock attempt the most arduous task of all: picking a horse’s hoof. (The horse is adorable, by the way.) This film will leave you with the courage to turn a new leaf in your own life as well as let go of whatever is weighing you down.