Each of us is like living our personal movie, inevitably arriving sooner or later at the guilt and regret chapter.
We discover a new universe of emotions in those moments, unfortunately not always pleasant to experience.
Our mind then becomes a volcano ready to erupt when we realize something irreparable that we have done or said.
When our body hurts, sooner or later, the wound heals, our soul can continue to bleed for years.
With regret, I know I get the guilt of being unnecessarily philosophical, but for today’s movies, I think it fits.
These three stories made a lasting impression on me, and I kept thinking about them long after seeing them.
If you’d like, let me know in the comments if you feel the same or if perhaps (it may well be) I’m mistaken.
Table of contents
- 1 – Another Earth (2011)
- 2 – Flight (2012)
- 3 – Don’t Go (2018)
- Related article
1 – Another Earth (2011)
Another Earth is a movie that lives on the regret of its young protagonist for the guilt that she can not remedy.
The story begins with her driving drunk on her way home from a party and killing an entire family in a terrible car accident.
That same evening, shocking news shakes the entire world: a planet with continents and oceans identical to ours suddenly appears in our skies.
Years later, the girl has served her time in prison, dropping out of school and starting to work humbly for a cleaning company.
Looking for him every day, she eventually finds the only survivor of the accident, her father, who has been in a coma for a long time.
Once a famous musician, the man has now become an alcoholic and a sufferer, living alone in his currently empty house.
Wishing to meet him but unable to confess her true identity, she introduces herself as a cleaning lady looking for work.
After spending some time together, their relationship evolves from friendship to romance.
In the meantime, the authorities contact the mysterious planet for the first time, discovering something even more incredible.
Not only is the other Earth the same as ours, but also its population is an exact duplicate of every person on our planet.
Thus was born an opportunity for a select group of people: an exchange program between citizens of the two Earths.
When she wins one of these rare tickets through a literary contest, she finally realizes she can start a new life from scratch.
But before she leaves, she must finally reveal the truth to the man who is madly in love with her.
Intimate sci-fi and two destroyed lives
Another Earth is a touching movie about the incurability of remorse and guilt, with a long quest for forgiveness.
The Sci-Fi element is almost just a clever and fascinating excuse to better explain the characters’ feelings.
Each of them can’t cope with weaknesses and traumas, stuck in an unhappy situation in which they see no hope.
Brit Marling is a fantastic protagonist, young and beautiful, charming and sad.
She’s an intelligent girl with many possibilities but prefers hiding behind a poor humble job as penance for her actions.
Looking how to start over, she will increasingly dream of a new life in which everything is still to discover.
In contrast, Matthew-Lee Erlbach plays the victim and sole survivor of the family involved in the accident.
He lives with the chronic pain of his injuries, leaving housekeeping to the mysterious girl offering to work for him.
Initially suspicious, he will be won over by the girl’s loving attention, abandoning alcohol and slowly returning to life.
After a proper introduction of the girl, the story becomes a one-on-one between her and the survivor.
Between lies and partially hidden truths, the development of the relationship and the psychological catharsis with the extraterrestrial event takes over.
The movie’s final twist is quite good, seeming finally the couple overcome guilt and regret, although we won’t be sure.
Simplicity and elegance always work
Mike Cahill writes and directs an atypical and engaging sci-fi drama, carefully sculpting the psyche of his characters.
His winning choice is to perfectly place a small personal story in an extraordinary context of global change.
Thanks to suffering and poetic elegance, the direction shines, gracefully bringing a brilliant but straightforward script to the stage.
The actors’ cathartic performance is superb, with an excellent mutual understanding that arouses astonishing empathy.
As humankind seeks answers from the mysterious planet in the sky, they seek a settlement to their pain.
This double search proceeds simultaneously, apparently disconnected but rejoining in the simple but effective ending.
I often hear about movies’ guilt introspection, yet the pain and regret are present in every frame more than ever.
Indeed, the journey to the new planet is both an opportunity and a self-inflicted punitive exile for the protagonist.
On the alternate Earth, man could also find a new family, for example, but how will the other version of himself react?
The story provides plenty of thoughtful insights, leaving to search for answers the audience intending for this.
Unfortunately, major distributors have almost totally ignored Another Earth, being released only in very few theaters worldwide.
However, if you have the will and patience to appreciate its message, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
2 – Flight (2012)
Second movie for a story that starts at high altitude with spectacular thrills, eventually plummeting into guilt and regret.
Flight follows the vicissitudes of an airline pilot in command of an ordinary flight en route to Atlanta.
After a mechanical failure, he miraculously makes an emergency landing, saving most crew and passengers.
The man is an incurable alcoholic and druggie living hidden behind a façade of fake respectability, especially after the heroic episode.
But lawyers for both sides discover that he was drunk and high on cocaine on the morning of the flight.
So, to not pay compensation that could bankrupt the airline, they try to blame him for the accident.
Eager to get away from it all, he takes refuge in his father’s old house with a woman he met at the hospital.
Trying to fight his desire to drink, he cannot make peace with his lying and arrogant nature.
In the meantime, he has to prepare for a public hearing, which would cause him to lose his job and send him to prison for a long time.
Despite his friends trying to save his career in every way, the man seems to fall into an inevitable spiral of self-destruction.
His family and even the other survivors, including his colleagues, despise him despite saving their lives.
However, hitting rock bottom might not be the worst thing in his life if his conscience finally finds peace once and for all.
The dark hidden in full light
Flight is the story of a seemingly happy and successful man who, instead, comes to the end of a spiral of lies and excesses.
Hiding his life ruined by drinking from everyone, he remains utterly alone after destroying relationships with everyone who loved him.
Often obnoxious and irritating, this character does not always inspire sympathy for his choices.
In short, he is authentic, a man who has his moments of courage and passion, along with others where he is pathetic and horrible.
Denzel Washington plays this character masterfully, for which I couldn’t think of a better actor.
His long silences are enough to express the inner drama, struggling against the arrogant pride that leads him to drink and lie.
Paradoxically, this man seems almost more angry with the few people who would like to help him than with his accusers.
For example, until the end, the young girl he met in the hospital tries in vain to be near him.
The beautiful Kelly Reilly plays this woman, also a drug addict, who would like to put the pieces of her life together.
In addition, a monumental John Goodman is irresistible as the protagonist’s personal drug dealer and best friend.
The actor only has a few scenes in the entire film, but he shocks the stage with his irrepressible personality.
I liked him so much that, although I know it’s not possible, I almost wish there was a movie just about him.
Film technique and narrative substance
Robert Zemeckis directs a deep adult drama, surprising everyone with his style change.
Beginning with a nude scene never before seen in his films, the director clarifies that he means business.
Moreover, through his filmography’s most pessimistic and gloomy characters, he criticizes an entirely professional and familiar value system.
Men and women caught up in alcohol, drugs, and sex lies shamelessly to defend their careers and maintain their lifestyles.
However, the former director of Back to the Future and Forrest Gump does not forget his great cinematographic technique.
For example, let’s look at the terrific footage of a believable plane crash right at the beginning.
It’s an unforgettable sequence where it felt almost like being on that plane, experiencing those dramatic moments firsthand.
Equally spectacular are the various sequences in which Washington is drunk or high, elegantly shot with a steady cam.
These are entertaining and disturbing but serve to break away from the drama with brief fun moments.
Flight was a huge commercial success in theaters against a modest budget.
To all Zemeckis movie lovers, let me add with the guilt of having seen it late, this is a movie you will regret not experiencing.
3 – Don’t Go (2018)
Finally, today we close with a little-known fantasy movie about a young father’s incurable guilt and regret.
Don’t Go is about a young couple who have been mourning the tragic death of their baby girl for years.
To start a new life and finally turn things around, they move to Ireland to the old family property.
They intend to restore and bring an old hotel into business while the husband resumes his job as a teacher.
But soon, some recurring dreams begin to haunt him, seeming more and more real every day.
Each night, he relives a happy afternoon spent at the small nearby beach with his family many years ago.
But the old memory, seemingly joyful, actually hides an uncomfortable truth leading to their child’s death.
Initially, his wife, friends, and co-workers try to comfort him, believing that the man has a nervous breakdown.
Soon, they all realize that the man truly believes he can change the past by altering events through his dreams.
Haunted by the SEAS THE DAY message that keeps appearing around him, he will fix his previous mistakes.
Pushing the boundary between madness and hope, the only solution that could fix everything, is something so incredible that no one wants to believe him.
Supernatural feelings of guilt for a broken man
Don’t Go is a fantasy movie amid a tragic story of regret, where each character has something to be guilt.
The rural and natural settings of the Irish land add an extra touch of magic, aiding in the suspension of disbelief.
The locations’ lots of light and space are the perfect backdrop creating the right supernatural atmosphere.
Considering the protagonist’s hope comes from his dreams, it’s almost hard to distinguish them from reality at times.
The other characters also have personal obsessions and quirks, hiding their dramas in everyday rituals.
However, David Gleeson doesn’t overdo it behind the camera, maintaining credibility in the narrative and the various emotional reactions of the characters.
The series of relationships change depending on the situation, from love to hate in the space of a minute.
Above all, what is challenging to earn is the trust and esteem of others, especially when they believe the protagonist is crazy.
The director will then do an even better job with Tolkien, a fictionalized biography of the great fantasy writer.
But already in this movie, he showed that he knew how to handle the complex contradictions of guilt and remorse, using an unusual film genre for these topics.
When the actors’ faces are at the center of everything
Stephen Dorff plays the grieving husband with great enthusiasm, admittedly a complex and challenging role.
The actor has never had a chance to star in his career, and he also takes advantage of this opportunity.
His character hides anger that explodes towards his wife and sister, almost like an automatic reflex.
However, he actually has a secret hatred of himself for failing to prevent his little girl’s tragic end.
Melissa George as his wife, initially distracted by her new life, does not react to her man’s escalating feelings.
Disappointed by his behavior, without knowing the causes of her continued anxiety, she will then be concerned about the arrival of her alcoholic sister in the house.
The sister is the intense and beautiful Aoibhinn McGinnity, which changes the game halfway through the movie with her entrance.
Her part is biblical, the fruit of sin, dividing the married couple with a rift of lies.
Finally, beyond the family trio, Simon Delaney is essential to the protagonist as a man of faith and fellow professor.
He accidentally pushes his father toward his final cathartic choice by recounting his spiritual reflections in his lectures.
Don’t Go is a thrilling supernatural family drama that creates a small world of a few characters effectively and delicately.
It’s an intense peace quest going through suffering and disappointments for a movie about guilt and regret in a problematic family.