Characters are often the most integral, complex parts of a film script. I’ve often felt, experienced and come to believe that a film with finely etched out characters often stays in your mind more than films that focus solely on the plot. While there could be films with gripping plots as well as intriguing characters, I’ve always had this inclination towards films that are almost entirely character driven. There have been numerous occasions that left me spellbound when the filmmakers make masterful use of the characters to tell their stories. This is when they chronicle a character’s journey that shapes up the heart of the film’s story. And more often than not, character driven films push actors to their extreme limits resulting in sensational performances. With that said, here is my list of some of the top character driven films ever. You can watch some of these best character study movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
1. Citizen Kane (1941)
The greatest American film ever made also happens to be one of the most character driven films of all time. ‘Citizen Kane’ chronicles the life of Charles Foster Kane, a big shot newspaper publisher, whose mysterious last word happens to interest a newspaperman as he sets out to discover its meaning. A film that revolutionized almost every aspect of filmmaking, ‘Citizen Kane’ is a staggering character study of a human being. The soul of a human being that was once brimming with ambitions and desires. Kane’s life is revealed to us through interviews in flashbacks as we see him go from being an idealistic young man to a cutthroat business tycoon. It is the mystery behind the man, his journey, his dreams, his emotions and desires that forms the heart and soul of the film. And more than 7 decades later, Charles Foster Kane yet remains as one of the most enigmatic figures in cinema.
Read More: Best Movies Shot With a Handheld Camera
2. Taxi Driver (1976)
Probably no other film has managed to captivate, engage and disturb its viewers the way ‘Taxi Driver’ has in a way that it has very little to do with the plot but is all about its central character’s journey as he is pulled into the web of madness and paranoia. Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece is a silent roar about Vietnam and a generation that witnessed and endured the madness, the chaos and been through hell in the jungles of Vietnam. And Scorsese, with his cinematic prowess, portrays a man’s alienation from civilization all through the eyes of De Niro’s Travis Bickle. It is Travis’ survival in a world that was once his but now feels alien that forms the crux of the film’s story.