Every film should have a plot—it feels like a necessity along with the need for a compelling main character and an intriguing conflict.
That being said, some films cast aside plot structure and any kind of driving force, often resulting in unique and memorable experiences. Sometimes, the lack of a plot doesn’t make a film’s story any less compelling. Here are a few films that are enhanced by the structureless approach.
The Worst Person in the World
Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s Oscar-nominated film The Worst Person in the World follows Julie (Renate Reinsve) throughout four years of her life.
This 20-something coming-of-age story gives viewers an intimate look at how Julie navigates relationships and careers as she struggles with what she wants to do with her life. The film is brilliantly acted and directed, featuring some very authentic dialogue.
Beyond the many impressive qualities of the film, the lack of a rigid plot structure supports the story by helping the audience empathize with Julie’s inner struggle. The intentionally meandering nature of the film perfectly reflects Julie’s aimlessness.
The Worst Person in the World is an incredible film and character study. It’s worth a watch, especially for those who can relate to Julie’s feeling of not knowing what to do.
With the camera roaming aimlessly from conversation to conversation, Slacker provides a brief look into the lives of a wide variety of misfits and odd characters.
Not only does Slacker lack a plot, but it also lacks other basic elements of a film, including a main character and a central conflict. Rather than investing the audience in any specific character, Slacker immerses them in a detailed time capsule of the late 80s, with all the era-appropriate anxieties front and centre.
While the characters and conversations are random, they’re all connected through themes of class, media, and the job market. Despite the characters’ eccentricities and quirks, they all relate to the same issues, showing how people can always find common ground, no matter how different they may seem.
The Florida Project
Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is an endearing slice-of-life film set in a colourful motel complex beside Disney World.
The film follows a young girl named Moonee, played by Brooklynn Prince in a compelling breakout performance. It also features Willem Dafoe and Bria Vinaite in memorable supporting roles.
Much like The Worst Person in the World and Slacker, The Florida Project doesn’t follow much of a plot structure. Instead, it follows Moonee and her friends as they go on different adventures, blissfully unaware of their impoverished circumstances and the harsh realities of the world.
The Florida Project’s expert use of perspective makes it special. The film is shot in a way that grounds it in the perspective of its child characters, allowing the audience to view poverty through the lens of childhood innocence. No matter what kind of conflict arises, the perspectives and reactions of its young characters always come first.
Maybe not every film needs a plot to succeed. Despite their lack of a traditional plot structure, these films tell compelling stories and are definitely worth watching.
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