It is rightly exclaimed that ‘weird is the new normal’. Guess we are pretty much over the fallacy that a film’s central character should always be the archetype of ultimate perfection, and righteousness. Over the time, Hollywood has presented us with several characters that are alone even in the crowd and are battling their own inner demons just to fit in the society. They are branded dysfunctional because both their perspectives and actions defy the conventional societal norms. Most of them are psychologically and emotionally periled by some or the other infirmity but still they reflect unparalleled quintessence of bedrock humanity. Lets take a glimpse on the top 10 dysfunctional movie characters of all time who will forever be remembered and celebrated for being “differently-abled”. After all, even Achilles was born with a ‘weak heel’.
“Which would be worse: To live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”
– Teddy Daniels, (Shutter Island)
Disclaimer: Mild Spoilers Ahead
Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump, 1994)
“What does Normal mean anyway”?- this unforgettable line by Forrest’s mother in the 1994 classic film has not lost its bearing even after 20 years since the film’s release. It somehow sets the entire theme of the movie in a single line. Forest Gump, the protagonist of the film (played by Tom Hanks) was a stand-out embodiment that determination and hope alone can create miracles which can never be voiced with logic. Detected with an I.Q less that 75 and severe spine damage, little Forest had to repeatedly bare all the austerity of the society.
Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver, 1976)
One of the most striking features that somehow link all the dysfunctional characters is their recurring failure to blend with their societal environment. Travis Bickle, an iconic character played by Robert De Niro suffers from acute Insomnia and with each passing time finds himself being dragged into the black hole of his own insecurities.
Teddy Daniels (Shutter Island, 2010)
Like most of the other Martin Scorsese directorials where the protagonists are presented as lost, demented and dysfunctional beings, Shutter Island is not an exception either. The story follows the uncanny life of detective Teddy Daniels (essayed by Leonardo DiCaprio) who is rat-trapped within his professional and personal life. The character is edgy, desperate and is widely shunned as fanatical by the rest of the world as he copes with his psychotic episodes to a point where he is no longer able to differentiate between reality and imagination.
Leonard Shelby (Memento, 2000)
The pack of dysfunctional characters will remain unfairly incomplete without the mention of Leonard Shelby, (played by Guy Pearce) who despite of suffering from anterograde amnesia, decides to forestall his limitation and move on in the path of vengeance. With every villain he combats, he is alongside battling his own infirmity and dysfunction.
Howard Hughes (The Aviator, 2004)
Howard Hughes, the haughty and dysfunctional business tycoon (played by DiCaprio) from the 2004 biopic, serves as yet another metaphorical envoy of Martin Scorcese’s list of frantic and damaged protagonists. The more he reaches the pinnacle of establishment, the more does Howard unknowingly fall prey to his own infirmity of acute Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008)
Hardly has any other film portrayed the unthinkable extremity of a dysfunctional character as this David Fincher directorial has. Benjamin Button (played by Brat Pitt) is an unusual character who ages in reverse and as a result finds his whole life in a topsy-turvy. Such a character who defies normalcy becomes an object-of-awe for the entire world and is mostly met with severe insolence.
Nina Sayers (Black Swan, 2010)
For the extremely passionate Ballet dancer, Nina (played by Natalie Portman), her unchecked passion itself becomes lethal to her existence. As she succumbs to bipolarity of character, all her world becomes a big maze of disorientation to her.
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, 2000)
Christian Bale iconized Patrick Bateman as one of the most prominent dysfunctional serial killer character. Amidst the shroud of negativity, lies a person who has been deprived of his decency till the point of absolute moral degradation.
Patrick “Pat” Solatano (Silver Linings Playbook, 2012)
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and delusion, Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) devotes his life mission in pursuit of hope and silver lining. He epitomizes the fact that no person has to be necessarily text-book defined “normal” to lead a contented life.
Hanna Schmitz (The Reader, 2008)
Set in the post-World War II Germany, the film trails the life of Hanna Schmitz, an unusual character who is constricted within her sense of diffidence as she fights her dyslexia (inability to read and write) and constantly attempts to fit in the normal world.
Hence it can be rightly concluded that no matter how frenzied and dysfunctional these characters may be, they are what we relate to the most. There is wholeness in their dysfunction. Their weird and demented shades are what that add soil to their peerless existence.
Does your list of all time favorite dysfunctional characters match ours? If not, share them with us..