10 Movies With Mind-Bending Plots

Entertaining, mind-twisting movies which will stay with you long after the credits roll.

stranger than fiction will ferrell
Columbia Pictures

Christopher Nolan's time-bending, mind-stretching Tenet ably justifies its place on this list but, if you're in the mood for equally challenging, and equally entertaining fare, there are a host of other great films to choose from.

Almost from the beginnings of cinema, film-makers have experimented with non-linear narratives and brain-twisting plots. Some of the greatest movies across the decades have pushed the envelope in terms of their structure, and you will find many of these included below.

It should come as no surprise that the ideas-rich world of science fiction contributes strongly here. The concept of time-travel, of course, has given directors scope to stretch, condense, overlap and otherwise play havoc with conventional formulas. We've restricted ourselves to just two entries from that particular genre, but honourable mentions must go to Time Crimes, Safety Not Guaranteed and Le Jetee, all of which could have featured.

Prepare to take a deep dive into parallel universes, altered consciousness, dream-like tales and realities-within-realities.

10. Je T'aime, Je T'aime (1968)

A director who could easily contribute more than one film to this list, Alain Resnais is probably better known for critically acclaimed works such as French-Japanese drama Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), documentary Night And Fog (1956) and the enigmatic Last Year In Marienbad (1961), but this underrated sci fi gem easily sits alongside the latter in terms of depth and style.

Following an attempted suicide Claude Ridder (played by Claude Rich) is approached by a shadowy scientific organisation who ask him to participate in an experiment concerning time travel. Ridder, who feels he has nothing to lose, agrees. The procedure is intended to send Ridder back into the past, where he will stay for precisely one minute before returning.

Instead, Ridder is cast into the time stream, and begins experiencing, or re-playing, his life in a disjointed, jarring fashion. These scenarios sometimes last mere seconds, playing in a loop like a stuck record. At other moments the scenes are more expansive. At first, the viewer is never quite certain as to the order of events we are witnessing but, gradually, a story emerges. Previously obscure references begin to make sense, character's motives become clear and the drama plays out in thrilling fashion.


Chris Wheatley is a journalist and writer from Oxford, UK. He has too many records, too many guitars and not enough cats.