5 Movies about some very dysfunctional families


Want to watch something that makes you feel like you’re not the only one with a fucked up dysfunctional family? Well, so do I sometimes, and these are some excellent go-to movies that make most families seem idyllic. These are 5 movies portraying family dynamics that HOPEFULLY make you feel like your isn’t all that bad. But then again, maybe you grew up like me, haha.

These movies delve into everything from pedophilia, psychosis, happiness, sadness and the meaning of life. But most importantly, they portray how it affects the family dynamics. Let’s begin, shall we!

Happiness (1998)

Happiness disturbing movie about a dysfunctional family

Happiness is a brilliant, provocative movie that is definitely not for everyone. Watching this is movie is a bittersweet but epic journey. Most disturbing is how entertained you feel and how much empathy you have for the dysfunctional characters. Director Solandz depicts reality with the rawness and complexity it deserves.

Three sisters with broken souls, each holding up appearances for one another. Their parents who are separating after a whole life together. A pedophile who must also be a father. The nerd who only gets an orgasm by making obscene phone calls. It’s as gripping as it is unsettling.

There is no answer given as to why the three sisters have ended up in dramatically different places in their lives. Why is it so fascinating to see Joy, the most neurotic of sisters, constantly fail and humiliate herself? And why do I think the overweight office worker who makes obscene filthy calls to his unreachable neighbor seems like a very nice guy? And why the hell am I rooting for the guy who gets a hard-on by his son’s classmates? That’s Happiness for you.

Magnolia (1999)

Magnolia beautiful drama

Paul Thomas Anderson’s third feature film is one of the best ensemble dramas of its time. Magnolia is a unique film with an intelligent script, in-depth characters and stellar performances from the actors. It’s a movie well deserved of its fine reputation.

The movie begins with a narrator telling us about several bizarre lives and deaths caused by chance. We then get to follow various people in Los Angeles during a rainy day. Their lives and destinies are woven together by chance. Magnolia is about lonely, unhappy, dysfunctional and sick people. People who seek a meaning with their lives and existence.

Magnolia is a hard movie to get through, seeing as it’s 3 hours filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. But when the credits finally roll, after an amazingly beautiful closing scene, you feel incredibly happy. Not because the movie has ended, but because of everything it taught you.

Marrowbone (2017)

Marrowbone intense dysfunctional thriller

The fact that Marrowbone has the same screenwriter as The Orphanage doesn’t go unnoticed. The same heavy atmosphere can be noted, although The Orphanage is much scarier. In Marrowbone, screenwriter Sergio G. S├ínchez also took to directing, which he pulled off with excellence!

We get to follow four siblings who moved together with their mother to a deserted house, Marrowbone. The mother is ill and dies, which of course causes chaos and panic amongst the children as none of them has turned 21 and can be a legal guardian. They decide to hide their mom’s death in order to stay together, but soon their past catches up and a sinister presence torments them in their home.

Marrowbone is an unusually atmospheric and well-made drama thriller. It was unfortunately marketed as a horror film, and if you’re looking for something to scare the crap out of you, I can understand the disappointment. Marrowbone is a beautiful movie that pulls at your heartstrings more than your adrenaline.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums a very dysfunctional family

Wes Anderson’s film about a dysfunctional family reaches pure perfection at times with its clever dialogue, peculiar characters and great music (Ruby Tuesday became one of my favourite songs after watching this movie). It offers both ingenious comedy and big emotions, while having the delightful signature Wes Anderson touch.

Royal Tenenbaum and his wife Etheline parent three very successful children. Screenwriter Margot, businessman Chas, and tennis pro Richie. But when the parents file for divorce the children feel very let down by their dad, whom they blame for the failing marriage. Twenty years later the glory days are long gone and dad Royal shows up again with some tricks up his pocket to reunite with his family.

I watched The Royal Tenenbaums for the first time back in 2008, which was when my love for film was really taking off. The movie became a definite mark in my cinematic journey, sparking a wow-feeling that I would later come to chase like an addict chases her next hit. While I objectively see that Wes Anderson has made some better movies, The Royal Tenenbaums will forever have first place in my heart.

Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Goodnight Mommy german horror

Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz enter the feature film world with a boom! They immediately had me intrigued with Goodnight Mommy and later with The Lodge, quickly climbing to my top list of directors to keep track of. Goodnight Mommy is a beautifully stylish movie with an amazing build-up, heavy atmosphere and some incredibly unpleasant moments.

Twins Lukas and Elias spend a carefree summer together on the family farm. When their mother finally return home after a long hospital stay, the boys begin to question whether it’s really their beloved mother who came home, or if it’s a fraudster hiding behind the bandages.

This is a hard movie to write about without spoiling anything, and it’s also a movie best watched with as little preassumption’s as possible. Goodnight Mommy revolves around power games and a search for identity. The director-duo made the wise decision to go the less obvious route. They wanted to evoke a pure bodily reaction which after the film makes you reflect on the topics it touches on.

Written By


I've always had a deep love and fascination for movies, being an especially strong advocate for the weird, foreign, underrated, under-budgeted and unfairly NC17 rated films of our world. Cinesister is the embodiment of this passion (which some might call an obsession).

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