Netflix is a cornucopia of unusual, new and little known films and television. There are more films being funded and picked up than ever before and so in some respects, there’s never been a better time to be a cinephile. Here are a few of the better indie movies available on UK Netflix, but check your recommended because there are many more out there.
Directed by Kleber Mendonça
This Brazillian-French film caused uproar in Brazil when it was released thanks to its pointed political connotations; it received a starkly divided response. Some viewers passionately loved it where as some rejected it and called for a boycott of the film. Aquarius is a haunting story about a woman who refuses to sell her apartment to new developers, despite the fact that she ends up being the only person living in the apartment building.
Blue Jay (2016)
Director by Alexandre Lehmann
Netflix Queen, Sarah Paulson stars in this black and white love story. Childhood sweethearts, Jim and Amanda, meet again by chance and the film follows their navigation of their old relationship and their new friendship. The film provides Sarah Paulson with an opportunity to flex her acting muscles: we always knew she was an incredible actress, but this is a total contrast to her work for American horror Story. Watch this for a brilliantly human, poignant narrative.
Bottom of the World (2017)
Directed by Richard Sears
Scarlett and Alex are headed to LA along Route 66 when Scarlett disappears leaving Alex with an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a puzzle, to solve. It’s tricky to say more than that without giving the whole plot away but rest assured, this film is worth a watch. See past editing that seems clumsy and jagged for a narrative that traverses the intricacies of the subconscious. This film is worth the mental energy needed to watch it.
Beach Rats (2017)
Directed by Eliza Hittman
A gritty and thought-provoking coming of age drama, Beach Rats follows a young man navigating his home life, personal life and his fluctuating sexuality with a nostalgic Coney Island backdrop. The film is thoughtful in its portrayal of the empty hollow-ness of the unnamed territory between adolescence and adulthood and it shows, through careful acting and characterisation, the painful transitions that take place as the protagonist drifts through his life.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring the brilliant Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence and made particularly creepy by the ‘life imitating art’-ness of Aronofsky and Lawrence’s subsequent romantic relationship, Mother! is a confusing, twisting, complex story that is portrayed in an extremely stylish way. There is a couple of very upsetting scenes in this film and the plot is very confusing without a little bit of cultural capital- I had to look it up after I watched it: it’s a biblical parable- Mother! is a unique and frightening thriller.
Directed by Jean-Bernard Marlin
Another film that follows the difficulties with an adolescence that grows increasingly outside of the societally accepted sphere. The film and narrative are sharply realistic, making the film especially moving in a way that is raw and authentic. I watched the film with subtitles but I am told that there is meaning and nuance in the French language here which can’t be translated so if you can understand French, watch it in its original format.
Des Vents Contraires (2011)
If Sarah Paulson is the Queen of Netflix, Audrey Tautou has got to be the queen of impossibly delicate, elegant, French film performances. Though she is only in this film for a short while, her talent shines. Beginning with a married couple facing married couple type problems, the film soon takes a turn that leaves Paul a single father struggling to cope with loss, fatherhood and crisis.
Directed by Paco Plaza
This monochromatic thriller is not to be confused with the Spanish horror movie of the same name. Verónica is a twisty, suspenseful masterpiece full of beautifully precise cinematography as well as a clever and shocking plot. The film concerns a psychologist who comes out of retirement to treat a patient in her home. Whilst the premise may give you some ideas about how the story might play out, you’ll be surprised, I think, by the ending.
Paris est à Nous 2019
Directed by Elisabeth Vogler
The storyline, a term I use loosely here, is fine. It’s ambitiously abstract, making some big reaches for concepts it perhaps doesn’t achieve. However, all that is forgotten in the wake of how pretty the film is. The film balances on a butterfly-effect-esque ‘what if’ notion which is a big idea for a film that can’t quite grasp it but it asks some pertinent questions. For example; to what extent are we ‘ourselves’? Does love exist? It everything worth ‘it’? What even is ‘it’?
Friends with Money (2006)
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
This film has an incredible cast; Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusak, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and these powerhouse actors get to show their craft in a gentle, subtle way which does really show their skill. Aniston’s performance, in particular, is fantastic, reminiscent of her role in The Good Girl, she excels as this quietly poignant character. The film follows a group of friends as they navigate their finances and how their money effects their relationships.
Buster’s Mal Heart (2016)
Sarah Adina Smith
Rami Malek plays a man who works the night shift as a caretaker at a hotel. An ex-junkie, he has a sensitive wife, Marty, and a young daughter. One night at work, a man, The Last Free Man, walks into the hotel, and everything unfolds from there.
Mumbai Cha Raja (2012)
Directed by Manjeet Singh
Mubai Cha Raja is a coming of age story about a boy growing up in the slums of Mumbai. The film shows us the incredible imaginative qualities of childhood. Although the film shows us a dysfunctional and frightening family life, there is some poetry to the narrative an the film has been made sensitively and thoughtfully.