#Movies & TV

It’s Okay To Admit You Didn’t Understand These 8 Movies

by Jennifer Lafferty

It’s Okay To Admit You Didn’t Understand These 8 Movies

Just because a film is popular or gets rave reviews doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand. These are memorable flicks that a lot of moviegoers still haven’t completely figured out.


It can be embarrassing to admit we just didn’t understand all or part of a movie we’ve just seen, especially if it is a well-received film that everyone else seems to get. There are many movies that leave audiences scratching their heads, especially these eight flicks. So, the next time you don’t understand a plotline or an ending, you’re probably not alone.




1. Arrival
This 2016 sci-fi drama about a linguistic expert (Amy Adams) trying to communicate with an alien race, confused audiences by not setting up an important aspect of the story until it was too late. We see flashbacks of Adams, taking care of an ill child and assume it’s from another lifetime but this is actually from the future. We’re able to see it because of a bond with the aliens, who are unbound by time, a detail that’s not clear until the end.


Lost in Translation


2. Lost in Translation
This is an appropriately titled movie for more than one reason but a particularly confusing aspect occurs in the final scene. The 2003 film about a fading actor (Bill Murray) and a newly married young woman (Scarlett Johansson) bonding over their mutual loneliness in Tokyo, ends on a note of mystery when Murray whispers something the audience cannot hear in Johansson’s ear, causing speculation for literally the rest of our lives.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Any movie that mostly takes place in the mind of a Jim Carrey character has got to be somewhat confusing. So, it’s really not surprising that this offbeat 2004 romantic drama, which stars Carrey as a man trying to get over a painful breakup by having memories of his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) erased, is a bit difficult to follow.


American Psycho


4. American Psycho
The average moviegoer can’t really be expected to understand the mind of a psychopath, but this bizarre 2000 serial killer flick starring Christian Bale really threw audiences for a loop. If the title character, a compulsive killer trying to fit into society, isn’t perplexing enough, his absurd, rambling monologue at the end will surely confound you.




5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
This unique 2014 black comedy centers on an actor (Michael Keaton), famous for his former stint as a superhero, who is now trying to put on a Broadway play. Unusual throughout, this Oscar-winning film gives us an unexplained twist in the final scene when Emma Stone’s character, Sam, looks out the window with a frightened expression and then suddenly looks up and smiles. Are we supposed to know what that means?


Black Swan


6. Black Swan
This 2010 Natalie Portman thriller is another film with an ending that will leave you wondering. The popular movie, following a ballerina’s descent into madness as she becomes obsessed with perfecting her leading role in Swan Lake, messes with the audiences’ minds in the final scene when it’s not clear just who is the victim of a violent attack.


Fight Club


7. Fight Club
Like so many brilliant but confusing movies, this 1999 drama starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt brings audiences into the world of a mentally unbalanced character, who blurs the lines of reality and, in this case, has definite identity issues. It is interesting to get inside the head of someone as complex and off-kilter as the fight club proprietor, known as “The Narrator”, but at some point we want to know what is actually going on beyond his twisted perception of reality. The fact that people are still enthusiastically trying to figure out this film 15 years after its release is a testament to how well they mystery has held up.


Donnie Darko


8. Donnie Darko
It’s unusual for a movie to be confusing all the way through, but there are a lot of puzzling things about this 2001 sci-fi dramedy starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a teen who is tipped off by a giant bunny that the world is ending in 28 days. Despite the lack of clarity, Donnie Darko has become a critically acclaimed cult classic—but even Gyllenhaal and the film’s writer/director Richard Kelly admit it’s difficult to understand.