From Paterson to Aftersun: 10 Auteur Movies Overshadowed By Big Releases

From Paterson to Aftersun: 10 Auteur Movies Overshadowed By Big Releases
Image credit: Block 2 Pictures, Nordisk Film

Mainstream cinema is all well and good, but sometimes the mood is for something out of the ordinary.

Auteur cinema is often much bolder and more liberated in terms of the issues it raises, sometimes quite sharp or unpleasant, in contrast to big commercial films.

Sometimes the director does not even set the goal of telling a clear story, but focuses entirely on some philosophical idea or the inner experiences of the character.

1. The Hunt, 2012

Lucas lives in a small town in Denmark, where he works as a kindergarten teacher and is trying to get back on his feet after a divorce. His life seems to be getting better: he starts a new relationship, starts communicating with his son again, and even plans to take full custody of him. But suddenly Lucas' world collapses again after one of the kids accuses the teacher of sexual harassment.

The film is directed by Thomas Vinterberg and stars Mads Mikkelsen, a longtime brilliant director-actor duo whose part on Another Round earned Vinterberg a well-deserved Oscar.

2. Incendies, 2010

At the center of the story are twins, brother and sister, who follow the route of their mother, who once fled the war in the Middle East. They are following the will of a relative who wished that the twins would find their real father. This journey into the family's tragic past leads them to unpredictable discoveries about their mother.

Incendies is the last French-language film by now major Hollywood director Denis Villeneuve. For many viewers, it was the film's silent prologue, in which a child soldier's head is shaved to the tune of Radiohead's You and Whose Army?, that introduced them to the director.

3. Aftersun, 2022

11-year-old Sophie has just gone through her parents' divorce – her father Calum has left the family and moved to another country. Father and daughter go to a resort in Turkey to spend some time together and relax. While Sophie makes friends and enjoys her vacation, Calum hides personal difficulties that will later turn into an unpredictable tragedy.

Aftersun is the debut of Scottish director Charlotte Wells. The first movies of young filmmakers are often criticized for the lack of experience, but Wells' film is an exception. After the credits roll, you can't help but think of your own memories of family vacations. You understand that behind every joyful story lies a series of sacrifices made by parents to give their child a happy holiday.

4. About Endlessness, 2019

About Endlessness is the crowning achievement of Swedish director Roy Andersson. In this movie, divided into mini-stories, there is a cross-cutting plot with the main character – a priest. Every night he has a strange dream in which he carries a wooden cross through the streets of the city. As the priest tries to unravel the dream's secret symbolism, he makes unexpected discoveries about himself and the world around him.

About Endlessness is the latest film from Roy Andersson, who has directed only six feature-length projects in a career spanning more than 50 years. Here, the director turns to discussions of the burdens of the past and present and our attempts to deal with them.

5. The Worst Person in the World, 2021

The main character is a 30-year-old woman, Julie, who at some point realizes that she doesn't know what she wants out of life, what kind of career she sees herself in, and whether she is ready to be a mother. She dreams of becoming either a psychologist or a photographer, drops out of college, and goes to work in a bookstore.

While Julie suffers from melancholy, strives for self-destruction and believes that she can change her life, she is unexpectedly confronted with a tragic reality.

6. Melancholia, 2011

Justine, at the celebration of her own wedding, cold-bloodedly cheats on her husband. Her depression turns into a prophecy of the death of everything – the planet Melancholia is heading towards Earth and they will soon collide. Together with her sister, Justine lives out her last days.

Melancholia is mostly remembered for the scandal in Cannes – director Lars von Trier joked that he seemed to understand Hitler's ideas, but the joke was expectedly not appreciated. But first and foremost, Melancholia is a beautiful examination of depression, nihilism, decadence and existential crisis, filled with references to world art.

7. Paterson, 2016

Paterson is both the surname (or first name) of the main character and the name of the small town he lives in. Through the eyes of Paterson, a bus driver and poet, as he observes the boring life of a provincial town day after day, the viewer also begins to see poetry in everyday things, in their repetition and cyclicity.

Jim Jarmusch's film is not only about the appeal of the most boring life, but also about the small moments of happiness. For some, happiness is wealth or power, but not for Paterson. His happiness lies in a quiet, measured life and in the fact that he doesn't have to run anywhere or prove anything to anyone.

8. Youth, 2015

Conductor Mick and composer Fred have been friends for 50 years, and that's a long time. But on the threshold of old age, the friends find themselves confronted not only with the past, but also with an inner crisis. Behind them lies a long life full of successes and failures, ahead of them the unknown and the fear of oblivion.

The modern classic of Italian cinema, Paolo Sorrentino, reflects on the time that has passed and that is yet to come, on opportunities that will never come again. It is a movie about the fear that the journey is over and about the fear of death.

9. Take Shelter, 2011

The main character was not happy, but he led a measured and quiet life. Everything changed when he started having dreams about the coming apocalypse. Influenced by terrible dreams, he begins to build a shelter, which makes his friends and even his wife doubt his sanity.

He has lost touch with reality, he is confused, no one believes him, but he believes in himself and knows that his actions will save his loved ones.

10. In the Mood for Love, 2000

On the same day, journalist Chow and secretary Su move into two adjacent rooms in a large shared apartment. He has a wife, she has a husband, but they are almost never at home. Soon a friendship develops between Chow and Su, and at some point, they both realize that their spouses are cheating on them with each other.

This is the perfect movie to get acquainted with the work of Wong Kar-wai. It has all the hallmarks of his work: enchanting visuals, a brilliant play of light and shadow, and a world on the edge of dream and reality.