10 Complex Movies You Really Weren't Prepared For

Films with the power to leave your mouth hanging open.

A24

When we think of a "complex" movie, we tend to think of disjointed narratives, ambiguous characters, a state of bewilderment. It's almost as though a complex movie, by definition, has to beat you into submission with its intelligence in order to prove itself. This, in turn, makes it worthy of obsession... or at least a rewatch.

Some movies shoot for complexity and come up short, of course: Shutter Island, to cite one example, is impressively labyrinthian in its structure, but the final plot twist fails to explain the central conceit in a way that is narratively logical or satisfying. You come away feeling as though the film was complex for the sake of it.

Occasionally, though, a properly complex movie emerges; one that can actually justify its reputation for head-scratching and limitless pondering. In a lot of cases, audiences aren't expecting to come face to face with films made in this vein: in the advertising material, they're pitched or marketed one way, and only later - in theatres - do they reveal themselves to be works of legitimate cerebral power.

In short, it's easy to be sidelined by a movie's unexpected complexity, as made evident in the bold and original films gathered here...

Contributor

Sam Hill is an ardent cinephile and has been writing about film professionally since 2008. He harbours a particular fondness for western and sci-fi movies.