Rating 10 Movies On How Rich And Unhappy They Make You Want To Be

There’s a class of movie that has at its center the basic idea of “character who has everything on the outside, but has just figured out that s/he has nothing on the inside.” Arguably one of the lessons of these kinds of movies is something like “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” but somehow, some films seem to glamorize both the affluence and the emptiness that may come along with such a lifestyle. Other films, however, don’t go for this at all. Here are a few rich-yet-unhappy-themed films, rated on how much they make you want to be rich and unhappy.

1. Lost in Translation (2003)

Sofia Coppola has a knack for putting affluent, pretty, naive young female characters in depressing/ alienated/ against the world situations, and Lost in Translation is no exception. The movie’s so quiet and subtle that it might just be second to its soundtrack, which is just as pretty. Whatever the case, Coppola’s sophomore film definitely makes you want to look out over the Tokyo skyline in a lavish hotel at 5 a.m. while feeling melancholy and lost.

Score: 9.7/10

2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Everyone’s totally rich in The Royal Tenenbaums, but, basically, everyone in the film is also deeply melancholy, in one sense or another. Richie loves Margot. Margot’s totally depressed. Richie tries to kill himself. I think Eli tries to kill himself. Royal fakes stomach cancer. Chas is estranged. Etc. Despite all the suffering, though, Wes Anderson manages to sustain a sense of beauty and security through affluence, and by the end of it all, you wish you were a lovesick Tenenbaum with emotional problems.

Score: 9.2/10

3. As Good As It Gets (1997)

This 1997 romantic comedy starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear is full of affluence and pretty intense life difficulties. Regardless, James L. Brooks – the film’s director – does a pretty good job of coating the film with a perhaps pre-twee, life-affirming sheen, if you will, wherein viewing the central characters sort of makes you wish you lived such a wealthy and affected, albeit meaningful life.

Score: 8.3/10

4. American Beauty (1999)

Now that the American middle class is crumbling, the suburbs are on their way to becoming ghettos, and 90s nostalgia has quickly taken over 80s nostalgia as the predominant emotional callback for people in their mid- to late-20s, I think it’s reasonable to say that well-off (in terms of money) suburban families like the central characters in Sam Mendes’ American Beauty are at least somewhat ‘rich.’ Admittedly, American Beauty is a little less lighthearted than the films so far mentioned, but there are some pretty tweeningful moments in American Beauty that make you want to go back to being a young, messed up 90s suburbanite.

Score: 6.3/10

5. Marie Antoinette (2006)

Maybe the seminal rich/ depressed white person movie, Sofia Coppola appears on this list yet again via her penchant for pretty female characters who have everything but are so misunderstood and repressed by adult-ish characters/ roles that they’re lacking in the most important intangible something. Obviously there’s a pattern here, and it’s difficult not to assume such characters are influenced by Coppola’s own childhood, which I assume was both opulent and alienating. Regardless, watching this beautifully quiet film, while the audience isn’t quite sure if the focus is on the film itself or, again, its melancholy soundtrack, there’s something about it that makes you wish you lived in a mansion and had nothing better to do with your time than to demand a fake farm be constructed on your property.

Score: 10/10

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    Loved this. You’re a clever guy, Brandon.

  • Guesty

    I always hated The Royal Tenenbaums.  

  • guest

    patrick bateman is still a dime though #amirite

  • Guest

    “…everyone in the film is also deeply melancholy.”painful to read.

  • Keriann Gannon

    Woody Allen’s golden years aren’t and will never be over.  Time to see Midnight in Paris.

  • Scott Southard

    I saw the title and Lost in Translation jumped into my brain.  Made me smirk that it was first.

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/55j

  • Arthur

    I swear, my life as a gay, upper middle-class white male teenager in Westchester County is JUST like a Sofia Coppola film. It’s unnerving. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure I was never in a deeper depression than I was after the first time I watched “Synecdoche, New York”. Definitely did not want to be as unhappy as Cotard was. Never. Ever. Wouldn’t have minded being as rich, and he did win the Genius grant, that’s not too bad. But, I do love that movie and will watch it again on occasion, whenever I feel like a real, good, deep cry.

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