The movie world has its own internal logic. Things happen there that we would never accept as plausible in real life, and yet onscreen it makes perfect sense. Sometimes, even characters that would raise an eyebrow in reality appear pretty normal within that world of movie logic. But dig deeper and you’ll find there’s a whole society of silver screen crackpots that – in reality – would most likely have been sectioned by now.
There are iconic characters in film that we can instantly, easily recognise as suffering from one mental illness or another. Travis Bickle, The Joker, the Narrator in Fight Club: they’re all positioned as mentally unstable in one way or another. This list of ten is instead for the characters who reside somewhere between sanity and madness, whose behaviour we’ve somehow overlooked and have deemed acceptable within the context of their respective movies. But rest assured, they’re absolutely nuts.
1. Daniel Plainview – There Will Be Blood
In There Will Be Blood, Daniel Plainview is as compellingly determined and driven as the film itself. In the real world, he’s an instant Section Eight. A mega-rich oil prospector that makes Dallas’ J.R. look like a total wimp, this silver-tongued businessman likes to unwind by threatening the competition, killing priests and generally acting like a ruthless vampire-man. If Donald Trump was ever to carry himself in a similar manner, his next trade meeting would be held in an asylum. A complex, haunted man with obvious father issues, what makes Plainview such a compelling villain on film is just what would send him straight to a shrink in the real world. Failing that, jail.
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