10 Must-See Movies Involving Writers

Author: Vladislav Frederick

The following lists some of the must-see movies you should have on your list that are strictly about writers! Enjoy!

The Sessions (2012)

This drama is an inspirational work of cinematic art with remarkable genuine acting, based on the writings and life of journalist and poet, Mark O’Brien. The Sessions captures a very specific and intimate piece of O’Brien’s life, when at the age of thirty-eight, he decides to hire a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity. O’Brien’s own poetry makes appearances within The Sessions, and grounds the story very heavily into reality. The acting of the film is impressive in its own right, particularly that of John Hawkes, who went to extraordinary lengths to replicate the restrictions O’Brien had to labor under as a polio survivor. These efforts went so far as laying curled in a certain position to increase spinal pressure and decrease mobility, as well as taking time to learn the skills unique to a man imprisoned by an iron lung, such as dialing numbers on a phone using a mouth stick. Hawkes’ efforts pay dividends, in making both the film and Mark O’Brien’s struggles all the more heartrending and cogent.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a psychedelic and heavily hallucinogenic film that captures the life experiences of Hunter S. Thompson, writer of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. In the film, Thompson’s character and his attorney journey to Vegas to chase the American Dream. This chase is quickly infused with every manner of illegal drug that is available, and the main characters’ “trips” are shown vividly in the film, making difficult to distinguish the real from the surreal. While engaging in these colorful activities in all parts of Vegas, the protagonists reminisce over the counterculture glory of the 60’s, and lament the loss of culture since those times. The film is a unique experience, and a memorable must-see.

The Raven (2012)

This movie makes the list due mainly due to its clever plot, and its reference to one of the most renowned gothic/thriller writers, Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven creates a fictional account of Poe’s last days before his historically mysterious death, found delirious on the streets of Baltimore shortly before he died. A series of murders begin to occur, drawing upon Poe’s own works as inspiration. Poe is enlisted by the police to aid in the investigation, being the undeniable expert on his own work. Poe is played by John Cusack, who fulfills the role quite well, though he is often equaled or overshadowed by the character of the head investigator, Inspector Fields (played by Luke Evans). The dialogue occasionally reaches undeniably cheesy levels, but there is definitely a level of suspense sufficient to keep the watchers involved. And, all else failing, the historical elements of Poe’s life and quotes from his work that are woven seamlessly into the film, are alone more than enough to steal any viewer’s interest.

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

What happens when a writer manages to alienate everyone close to him by involving them in his writing? Woody Allen explores this idea with his classic film Deconstructing Harry, about a successful writer called Harry who has the (in his case) unfortunate tendency of drawing most of his inspiration from real-life people and real-life events that he is close to. At the start of the film viewers meet Lucy, who has just read Harry’s latest book about an affair that a woman engages in with her sister’s husband; and, this affair happens to be explicitly based upon Lucy and Harry’s own affair, now revealing it to the world. The results of this are explosive, and as Harry journeys through the film, he encounters more and more people whom he has managed to alienate and offend with his works. And so as the film progresses into increasingly ridiculous scenes, it becomes harder and harder to stop laughing.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris is a lighthearted comedy infused with a delicious amount of romance. Owen Wilson plays a former movie producer turned writer on vacation in Paris with an attractive yet insipid fiancee (Rachel McAdams), who cares nothing for his desire to write and lacks his romantic view of Paris. Wilson’s character seems somewhat despondent at his wife’s behavior, and at a loss in regards to his own writing, until a strange event (spoiler alert, it happens at midnight) leads him to encounter T.S. Eliot and his wife, alive in the flesh. From this meeting, Wilson’s character proceeds further into an alternate reality set in the very real and beautiful scenery of Paris, where he meets many of the most respected writers and artists of the last century, including Pablo Neruda, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and many, many more. The acting is remarkably genuine, and the renowned characters from history who make their appearances often steal the scenes with their distinctive and historically accurate personalities.

The Hours (2002)

This film is based on an award winning novel of the same name by Michael Cunningham, which focuses on yet another renowned novel: Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. The Hours explores three different women of different generations who are touched by Mrs. Dalloway, one of whom is Virginia Woolf herself. Each of these women is tied together by a sense of entrapment similar to that felt by the persona of the title character in Mrs. Dalloway, as well by possession of traits found in said persona. The film is sometimes a hard watch, revealing a gloom that is unable to avoid in any work that touches on Virginia Woolf. However, the acting within The Hours is both honest and compelling, and inspires hope to those feeling the melancholy of conventional live such as the characters do.  Ultimately, this leads to a very emotionally compelling–and startlingly realistic–film.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Seven Psychopaths is a deliciously disjointed comedy about Marty (Colin Farrell), a struggling screenplay writer who is attempting to find the inspiration and commitment to finish his manuscript, but frequently finds creativity barred by hangovers. His luck changes when his closest friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) brings around a newly acquired pet Shih Zhu. Chaos and hilarity ensue when it is discovered that the dog is stolen goods, and its angry mobster owner (played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson) is willing to tear the city apart to get back his pet, as well as the thief and all his friends. The frenzied chases and ludicrous scenes that come from this are amazingly engaging and original, and end up creating a very one-of-a-kind journey, both for Marty the screenplay writer, and for the film’s audience.

Misery (1990)

At what point does fan-devotion stop, and outright obsession start? This point is explored in Misery, a psychological thriller based off Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. Famed author Paul Sheldon (James Caan)  has written a series of books focusing on a character named Misery Chastain. But while on a trip from Colorado to L.A. to branch out with a new novel, he suffers a car accident and is rescued by a nurse named Annie (Kathy Bates), who takes him to her isolated home to recover. From here, scenes get chilling as the protagonist quickly learns that Annie is his biggest fan, and that his biggest fan has no intention of ever letting him go free. The film is a dark and riveting exploration of obsession, and keeps viewers on constant tenterhooks as to what will happen next.

Ruby Sparks

Have you ever fallen in love with a character in one of your favorite books? Well, this film takes that idea several long steps further. Ruby Sparks is a romantic comedy-drama in which Calvin, a young struggling novelist, inadvertently creates a female character named Ruby, whom he quickly falls in love with. This love becomes noticeably more tangible when she starts walking around his house, and his friends and family start seeing her. This leads to many scenes full of clever humor and gentle romance, but the film does take on a serious note when Calvin starts feeling incompatible with the upbeat, alive Ruby that he has created. Zoe Kazan, who both wrote the film and played as Ruby, claimed that she wanted the film to explore the idea of idealizing a person, of reducing a person down to the idea or expectations held of them. The film certainly does this, but does so in a way that is insightful, touching, and laughable to the audience.

Henry Fool (1997)

Henry Fool is something of a darker comical film, in which a socially awkward garbage man named Simon is befriended by a scoundrel of a novelist named Henry Fool. Henry inspires Simon to write, and to try and become published with his poetry. But even as Simon starts writing and making his foray into the world of publishing, this is intermixed with various life-disrupting events that Henry brings about as Simon’s friend, many of which are hilarious. As the movie goes on, we start to see a subtle reversal of fortunes between the two protagonists; this reversal admittedly leads the movie into darker places, but is a captivating journey, and not without some feelings of inspiration. The characters are original and complement one another remarkably; Henry even adds some sense of mystery to the film with a sordid past often hinted at but rarely discussed. The grit of Henry Fool  does sometimes outweigh its humor altogether, but this only serves to make the film even more interesting, and suspenseful.