Before diving into movies about identity, I need to point out that identity is something a person can’t live without. However, people often get so lost in the rush of this modern world that they completely forget their identity.
The subject of Identity is very vast and can lead to some very in-depth and philosophical discussions. It is no surprise that there have been many movies about identity. These movies focus on people trying to discover who they are.
The movies about identity can be very insightful and provide a unique perspective on life itself. Such movies have a strong and moving narrative. I personally like movies about identity because they don’t leave your mind for at least a few days.
So if you’re looking for such movies then look no further. We are presenting to you our top 15+ movies about identity.
Movies About Identity – The List
Identity is a very complex and deceptive aspect of humans. However, many filmmakers have beautifully portrayed the search for identity among people. So we have picked such movies about identity in this list.
Let’s dive right into it.
17. A Serious Man (2009)
The first movie about identity on this list deals with a person’s search for the meaning of life itself. This film conveys the message in a crude comedic but impactful manner.
A Serious Man revolves around Larry Gopnik, a physics teacher, as his life unravels due to a series of unexpected events. Despite his efforts to find purpose and solutions in the middle of his turmoil, he appears to be sinking.
In addition to the moving story-telling, the film is beautifully shot yet simplistic. This film’s story slowly grows on you and makes you fully invested in it. Overall, because of the eccentricity of its style and subject, A Serious Man is a really fascinating and entertaining film.
16. The 400 Blows (1959)
We often forget that a person’s treatment at home or society’s outlook on him plays a big part in the development of his personality. This movie about identity conveys the same message.
400 Blows is a French film. It revolves around a young boy who is neglected by his parents and society. As a result, he descends into a life of petty crime. He eventually gets sent to juvenile prison, however, he manages to escape the facility as well.
This film is one of the important films of Nouvelle Vague. The way it portrays society’s impact on one’s identity is very moving and heartbreaking at the same time. However, the film’s ending may be a little unconventional but it is quite moving.
15. I Am Love (2009)
Self-exploration is a necessary element for anyone who needs to truly understand their worth. Many movies about identity focus on this element. I Am Love is also one of those films.
This film tells the story of Emma who moves to Italy with her spouse after leaving Russia. She is now a respectable mother of three and a member of a strong industrial family, yet she remains unfulfilled. However, her son’s friend Antonio, a cook, awakens her senses one day.
Tilda Swinton stars in the lead role and she has given a phenomenal performance. In addition to Swinton’s wonderful acting, the film is very beautiful and seems like a breath of fresh air. The film urges us not to be scared to reveal to the world who we actually are.
14. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
While trying to prove themselves some people often adopt identities that do not represent them at all. This often leads to a spiral of despair. However, life can always give you a second chance.
Rebel Without A Cause is a coming of age story that revolves around a young guy who moves to a new town to find new friends and start his life over. However, he again falls prey to peer pressure and commits some acts he may regret.
The best aspect of this movie is the depiction of rage found amongst teenagers. In addition, it gradually transitions the character to adulthood. Finally, we can’t discuss this film without talking about James Dean’s powerful performance. It is a perfect movie for all struggling teenagers.
13. East is East (1999)
Culture shock can deeply impact a person’s sense of identity. It can be hard to come to terms with the difference between your and foreign culture. However, it also proves quite beneficial as a person can add the best of both worlds in his life.
East is East is a British movie about identity. It is set in early 1970s England where a Pakistani father’s formerly undisputed authority is challenged by his increasingly Anglicized children.
Not many movies about identity deal with the subject in a light-hearted and comedic manner. Initially, the film is quite slow but it slowly picks up the pace and you become more and more invested. Overall, the script is funny throughout and the film features some decent acting.
12. Wild Strawberries (1957)
Most of the movies about identity tell the story of a young man but the sense of realization can come at any time. This is what this movie is all about.
WIld Strawberries revolves around Isak Borg, a professor of medicine, who travels to Lund University to receive his anniversary title. He encounters strangers and relatives along the way, and in his nightmares, he is confronted with his own past as well as his dread of inadequacy.
This film is actually quite different from all the other entries on this list. It is quieter and more thoughtful. It portrays the journey of a man who has spent most of his life, however, according to him his life wasn’t as fruitful as it should’ve been. In short, Wild Strawberry is a beautiful film.
11. Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
Heartbreaks and hardships teach us the most valuable life lessons. It may be impossible for someone to discover their identity without going through some life-changing experience.
Perks of Being A Wallflower is a coming of the age movie. It revolves around an introverted freshman who is coping with the death of his best friend and wants a normal life. He befriends two seniors who help him discover who he truly is.
Unlike other coming of the age films, Perks of Being A Wallflower takes a more serious and unique approach to the subject matter. Moreover, the film is not depressing and even unveils its darkest twist in a subtle yet emotionally powerful moment. Overall, it is heartbreaking, charming, and wonderful.
10. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Not all movies about identity depict a real-life figure’s struggle with identity or self-discovery. This entry on our list provides insight into one of the most celebrated mathematician’s life.
A Beautiful Mind revolves around John Nash, A mathematical genius, Early in his career, he made an incredible discovery and was on the verge of worldwide fame. However, Nash quickly found himself on a long and torturous path of self-discovery.
This film features amazing performances by Russel Crowe, Ed Harris, and Paul Bettany. It is a thought-provoking and overall well-made film.
9. Joker (2019)
Joker is another movie that deals with society’s effect on a person’s identity. This film may be based around the famous comic book character but the overall story is very grounded and haunting.
The film revolves around Arthur Fleck, a mentally disturbed comedian, who is ignored and mistreated by society. After that, he goes on a negative spiral of unrest and violence. He achieves inner peace when he adopts the persona of the Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix is definitely the main highlight of this film. It is hard to imagine anyone besides him portraying this character with such realism and nuance. In addition to the brilliant acting, the film also has great pacing and a very intriguing storyline.
8. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Admiration can often lead you to adopt the mannerisms and personality of the other person. However, things can quickly go sideways and you can easily forget your own identity.
The Talented Mr. Ripley revolves around Tom Ripley who travels to Venice in the hopes of persuading Dickie, a rich descendant, to return to the United States. However, he becomes fascinated with Dickie’s luxurious life and goes to great lengths to imitate him.
You may find the film a bit slow at the start but it manages to get right back on track. Its script is very intelligent and thrilling. The film confronts the problems of adopting someone else’s identity. In conclusion, it has wonderful cinematography, great performances, and a compelling script.
7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
The search for identity often leads to some unimaginable adventures. This is because life itself is an adventure. We go through many ups and downs to become our true identity.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty revolves around Walter, who is working for a magazine. However, he soon finds out that his entire life is monotonous and starts feeling stuck in place. Walter, together with his coworker, takes action by embarking on a journey, unlike anything he could have imagined.
This movie teaches us an important lesson that the pursuit of identity is a never-ending thrill, and even when we think we’re comfortable in our own skin, life always manages to surprise us. The film is beautiful and quite underrated if you ask me.
6. Ex Machina (2014)
Ex Machina is the most unique movie on this list. It is a sci-fi film that explores the potential of artificial intelligence.
Ex Machina revolves around a young programmer who is chosen to take part in a groundbreaking experiment in synthetic intelligence that will assess the human characteristics of a highly sophisticated humanoid A.I.
This film doesn’t focus on the search for the identity of humans, however, it showcases an AI robot going rogue. The film is really beautiful and gut-wrenching at the same time. Alicia Vikander carries the entire movie with her brilliant and haunting performance. It is a worth watching film.
5. Lady Bird (2017)
So far we have included many coming-of-the-age movies, however, Lady Bird captures the essence perfectly.
This film covers an adventurous high school senior’s senior year, including her first relationship, involvement in the school play, and, most significantly, her college application.
Lady Bird is like a look back at our own adolescent years. The story is immensely engaging throughout, pair that with the brilliant performances of the cast and you’ve got a modern masterpiece.
4. Split (2016)
So far, we have talked about movies about identity that focus on an individual’s singular identity. Now imagine a man who is facing 23 different identities.
Split is a psychological horror movie. It revolves around a deranged man with 23 different personalities. He kidnaps three teenagers who now must escape before the man develops a very lethal 24th personality.
This film has a very unique concept. In addition to the phenomenal acting by James McAvoy, the film also has a very gripping storyline. It is a must-watch.
3. Birdman (2014)
When you fall down from the heights of success, it is very difficult to come to terms with your new life. These sudden changes to your lifestyle can often make you question your identity.
Birdman is a very unique movie. It revolves around a washed-up superhero actor who tries to resurrect his career by creating, directing, and acting in a Broadway play.
Micheal Keaton was the perfect casting decision for this film. Since the film revolves around an ex-superhero actor it was not surprising they opted to cast an actual ex-superhero actor. Keaton delivers a career-defining performance. Moreover, the film has very intricate cinematography and hard-hitting dialogues. It is highly recommended.
2. Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club is a drama thriller film. It revolves around an unnamed protagonist who is fed up with his dull life. He meets an eccentric businessman alongside whom he arranges an underground fight club.
There isn’t much to say about this film. Moreover, it is better to experience this film without knowing anything about it. It has a mind-blowing twist and you’ll be left wanting more. The storyline is astounding, a bizarre social commentary on the status of the world.
If you haven’t seen this film already then go ahead and watch it. You won’t be disappointed.
1. Moonlight (2016)
We take our life for granted at times. While we may face occasional hiccups in our life, for some people those hiccups are normal. Their entire life is spent in despair and under the shadow of other people which makes them lose their own sense of identity.
Moonlight revolves around a young African-American man who deals with his identity and sexuality while dealing with the day-to-day challenges of childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood.
This film is a symbolic tale of embracing our innermost self. This film also helped establish Mahersha Ali as a mainstream actor. In a film full of talented actors and memorable performances, Ali managed to stand out.
So this was our list of the top movies about identity. We hope they provide you with a different outlook on your life.
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