There are those of us obsessed with the unanswerable question, "What is the meaning of life?" We think: Should I search the earth for my soul mate, write a profound manifesto, or serve in the Peace Corps--will this give my life purpose? Or rather, am I just a drip of water in a vast ocean that could evaporate at any moment? That's why we turn to the cinema; to find answers to the unanswerable. However, while the characters in these films wrestle with the existential dilemma, as it turns out, they're just as dumb as the rest of us.
You Can Count on Me (2000)--Terry wanders aimlessly through life, finding simple pleasures in fishing, drinking, playing pool, or travelling. His sister Sammy, however, finds grounding in God, as well as a predictable life with her son in the town in which she was born. When Terry returns home, broke and in the middle of a nervous breakdown, Sammy tries to set him straight, but realizes she's not perfect herself. Admittedly, this movie sounds boring and has a totally dumb title, but is one of the best films I've ever seen.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)--Does being in love give life meaning, or is it the momentary thrills of down-and-dirty sex? Daniel Day-Lewis sure as shit doesn't know, as he cheats lavishly on his lovely wife, Juliette Binoche, yet supposedly loves her completely. Daniel Day's argument is that he doesn't get two tries on the earth. If he could live twice, he'd be monogamous the first time and a gigolo the second. Surprisingly, this argument doesn't convince his wife.
Henry Fool (1997)--Henry, a self-proclaimed great writer, becomes a tenant in the house that Simon, a lonely young garbage man, shares with his dysfunctional mother and sister (Parker Posey, yay!). Using his loud, convincing manner, Henry encourages directionless Simon to start writing and... Jesus! It turns out Simon is a huge hit. His gripping manuscript is posted on the internet, and he is transformed into a martyr. Henry is not quite as lucky, however, learning the tough lesson that life is a shit sandwich, and even if you work harder than the next guy, he'll still get the big promotion. KATIE SHIMER