The Most Confusing Films Of All Time

There are times in every cinema-goer’s life when they are left with their hand frozen in a bucket of popcorn and their jaw agape, watching in bemused discomfort as one nonsensical scene after another unfolds before them. When watching a picture requires the mental capacity of a brain surgeon, it can be easy to lose faith. Here, we list the most confusing films of all time, for you to avoid or attempt to disentangle at your leisure. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Memento

Momento

So yes, Christopher Nolan’s 2000 film is about amnesia. But somewhere amongst the chaos of photograph clippings, the endless flashbacks and up-close shots of Guy Pearce’s face, we were left feeling as blurry as the film’s protagonist.

The Matrix Revolutions

Matrixrev

The first of this trilogy still remains one of the most mind-bending and brilliant films of its century. The third of the series proved slightly less brilliant, and slightly more mind-bending. Does Neo die? Is the war over? Should he have just said no to the blue pill after all…? After struggling through this film, we suspect the answer is yes.

Donnie Darko

Donny

The cult-film to end all cult-films, with the performance that put Jake Gyllenhaal on the map as one of the finest actors of his generation. Audiences have long been hooked by the bizarre beauty of this classic, happily lost in the world of talking rabbits, schizophrenia, and crazed psychotherapy. Yet we still can not for the life of us work out that ending.

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland

David Lynch forces viewers of Mulholland Drive to exhaustively unpick the plot in his 2001 story. The surrealism of this picture has made it a cult favourite, but if you’re looking for an easy-viewing experience, this may not be the film for you.

The Tree of Life

Tree

With such a promisingly touching trailer, this film had people flocking to cinemas in hope of some enlightenment. However, Terrence Malick intersperses scenes of Brad Pitt’s Texan family with moments of universal creation and the origin of human life, and somehow the combination is more clouding than clear.

A Single Man

Single

Emotional, elegant, and dressed to the nines, there are more than a few moments in Tom Ford’s visually exceptional work that leave viewers tangled. But with suits that sharp, a little confusion is easily forgiven.

Vanilla Sky

Vanilla

Fans of Tom Cruise often choose to sweep this little number under the rug, and for good reason. The lucid dreaming of a man in cryogenic suspensions regaling his tale to a psychologist, all under the guise of a prosthetic mask…the need for a stiff drink has never been so great.

Adaptation

Adapt

Nicholas Cage. A book. Something about stealing orchards. No light has yet been shed.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001

Stanley Kubrick’s mega-film divided audiences on its release. Many viewers were entranced by the grandiose journey through time, while others found the pace of the film mind-numbingly slow. One thing’s for sure though. We were confused.

The Shining

shining

The subject of endless impersonations and generations of nail biting, Jack Nicolson’s crazed performance in this Stephen King adaptation still haunts us. There are infinite interpretations of the plot, with that final closing photograph still stirring debate today.

By Meg Abbott

Further Reading