I absolutely love Indie cinema. For many years, independent films have struck a chord amongst introverted film goers and emotion ridden artists. The independent film genre pertains to films produced on low budgets, and often times not backed by a major studio. Themes in indie films usually fall within the range of love, loneliness, adolescence, and depression. It’s had a huge impact on film, and even spawned the ‘mumble core’ sub genre. Along with their thematic elements, there’s often some sort of emotional reward earned by the protagonist. Indie films, despite often following protagonists who spend most the film in grievances, can be pretty darn inspirational. Here are just some of my personal favorite inspirational Indie films out there.*Warning, there are spoilers*
Garden State is a gem amongst Indie films. Written and directed by Zach Braff, Garden STate follows the story of a disillusion young man who returns to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral. There, he meets a girl(played by Natalie Portman) with whom he shares an instant connection to(solidified by the duo listening to The Shins’ beautiful track New Slang). The film is about dealing with the negative events in your life, and moving past them. It’s also about the beauty of human connection. Two very lost souls find their way to each other amidst the complexity of everyday life. Every shot feels carefully executed. The direction is very personal, taking you inside the protagonist’s dark world. And while the film does have a very melancholic tone, there is a huge pay off in the relationship between Portman and Braff’s characters. There scenes are handled so realistically, and very sweetly. It shows that even while your own life can be full of confusion and pain, you can always find a connection, and you can always move forward.
500 Days of Summer
Joseph Gordon Levitt was perfect as the lead role of Tom in 500 Days of Summer. The story is about a young man who falls in love with a girl named Summer, and the ups and downs of their relationship. The story of their relationship is shown in a non linear fashion, thus highlighting the contrast between the good and bad parts of their time together. Summer Even though Tom doesn’t get exactly what he wants in the end, the last scene of the film sends the message that even after having your heart broken, there’s always someone else out there. Summer may have ended up marrying someone else, but we can infer that Tom will be just fine with Autumn. The final shot of Joseph Gordon Levitt breaking the fourth wall gives me goosebumps every time.
Rocket Science is a severely underrated film. It’s the perfect tale of adolescence and heartbreak. A young boy with a stutter joins a debate team to impress a girl, only to discover her ulterior motives. And even though the film can get pretty depressing, what with seeing this poor boy humiliated by a girl he loved, he learns that there’s power in being who you are and embracing who you are. And absolutely no one can take that away from you, stutter and all.
When most people think of Josh Peck, they probably think back to his hit TV show Drake and Josh. But a few years ago, Josh Peck magnificently portrayed a drug dealing high school graduate dealing pot in exchange for therapy from a character played by Ben Kingsley. Peck’s character winds up falling in love with the daughter of the therapist. And while they do have a fling, he realizes that it’s nothing more than that. And even though Peck’s life seems pretty ‘wack’ what with his heart being broken and his family losing most of their savings, he learns that life is worth living, both good and bad, for the people that you care about(in this case Ben Kingsley).
Jeff Who Lives at Home
Mark Duplass is one of my favorite working writers/actors. For any indie music fans, he fronted a group named Volcano I’m Still Excited!! years back. Duplass and his brother Jay wrote and directed Jeff Who Lives at Home, taking helm of Jason Segel(Jeff) and Ed Helms who portrays his brother. Jeff is an idealist, whose family thinks of him as a slacker. But we learn that idealism is often times just what this world needs. Not enough people have their head in the clouds. Jeff finally learns his place in the world after rescuing a local figure and his family from drowning. Everyone has a value.
— Nicholas Graves