18 Movies Most People Need to Watch Twice To Understand

Sometimes, watching a movie more than once reveals hidden details and deeper meanings. In this post, we’ll look at 18 films with plot lines that most people need to watch twice in order to understand.

Memento

Photo Credit: Summit Productions

Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” uses a unique storytelling technique with a non-linear plot that keeps viewers engaged and guessing. The main character suffers from short-term memory loss, causing the scenes to play out in reverse order. This innovative structure makes a second viewing essential for understanding the complete narrative and piecing together the story’s puzzle.

Inception

Photo Credit: Warner Bros

Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, explores dreams within dreams through a complex, multi-layered structure. Dom Cobb, a thief who steals secrets from subconscious minds, is offered a chance to clear his criminal record by planting an idea in someone’s mind.

As the team ventures deeper into dream worlds, reality and dreams blur, creating mind-bending scenarios. The film combines thrilling action, emotional depth, and philosophical questions, inviting multiple viewings.

Donnie Darko

Photo Credit: Newmarket Films

Donnie Darko is a fascinating blend of science fiction, psychological thriller, and teen drama. Directed by Richard Kelly and released in 2001, this cult classic features Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled teenager Donnie. The film delves into complex themes such as time travel, alternate realities, and mental illness.

Set in the 1980s, it incorporates elements of pop culture and a memorable soundtrack. Its intricate plot, involving a mysterious figure in a rabbit costume and an impending apocalypse, definitely requires more than one viewing to fully appreciate and understand the nuances.

Mulholland Drive

Photo Credit: Universal Studios

David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is a surreal mystery that leaves viewers puzzled on their first watch. The movie has dreamlike sequences and a fragmented story that require you to really pay attention.

When you watch it again, you start to notice the connections and symbolism that you might have missed the first time around. It’s one of those films where the more you watch, the more you understand.

Fight Club

Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios

Fight Club blew me away with its surprising twist ending. The movie dives deep into themes like identity, consumerism, and rebellion, all masterfully woven into the storyline. Watching it a second time, I could catch the subtle clues leading up to the major revelation, making the experience even more rewarding.

The Prestige

Photo Credit: Warner Bros

I recently watched Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” again, which is about two rival magicians, Alfred Borden and Robert Angier. Their intense rivalry to create the best trick leads to sabotage and deceit. The story is told out of order, revealing bits and pieces over time and exploring themes like sacrifice, obsession, and illusion.

There are a lot of subtle hints and details that are easy to miss at first, but the surprising twists and depth become clearer on a second watch, showing off Nolan’s complex storytelling.

Primer

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

Rewatching Primer helps untangle its intricate storylines and lets you appreciate its innovative approach to the genre. As a low-budget science fiction film about time travel, its complex plot and technical jargon initially make it hard to follow. But with each viewing, I find new layers and understanding, making it a rewarding experience.

Shutter Island

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Having rewatched Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, I can say it’s a psychological thriller with a shocking twist that truly benefits from multiple viewings. The film’s detailed plot and scattered clues make a second viewing essential to fully appreciate the narrative’s depth and the protagonist’s journey.

Interstellar

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Interstellar, another Nolan creation, deals with space exploration and time dilation. Its scientific concepts and emotional storyline benefit from a second watch. This allows viewers to fully grasp the film’s ambitious scope and intricate details.

The Sixth Sense

Photo Credit: Spyglass Entertainment

The Sixth Sense, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is famous for its twist ending. The film’s subtle hints and red herrings make a second viewing rewarding. This enables audiences to spot the clues that were missed the first time around.

Cloud Atlas

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Cloud Atlas, directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, spans multiple timelines and characters. Its ambitious narrative structure is challenging to follow. Rewatching helps to connect the dots between the different stories and appreciate its thematic depth.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Photo Credit: Focus Features

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind explores memory and relationships. Its non-linear narrative and emotional complexity benefit from a second viewing. This helps to fully understand the characters’ motivations and the film’s underlying messages.

The Matrix

Photo Credit: Warner Bros

Directed by the Wachowskis, The Matrix is a sci-fi classic brimming with deep philosophical themes. Its complex storyline and groundbreaking visuals make it a film worth revisiting. A second viewing uncovers the film’s intricate world-building and deeper meanings.

Arrival

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Arrival is a thought-provoking sci-fi film exploring language and time. Twelve alien spacecraft appear worldwide, prompting the US military to recruit linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to decipher their language. As she learns their non-linear communication, she experiences visions of her life, revealing that the language alters time perception.

The film delves into themes of communication and interconnectedness, challenging viewers to reconsider how language shapes our reality.

Synecdoche, New York

Photo Credit: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

Directed by Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York is a complex exploration of art and life. Its layered narrative and abstract themes may be challenging at first. The film’s plot weaves multiple timelines, characters, and metaphorical elements that can be difficult to grasp in a single viewing.

Rewatching the film helps uncover its deeper meanings, subtle details, and connections that may have been missed initially, allowing for a richer and more profound appreciation of its intricate storytelling.

The Usual Suspects

Photo Credit: Gramercy Pictures

The Usual Suspects is known for its twist ending. The film’s intricate plot revolves around a group of criminals brought together by mysterious circumstances, leading to a heist orchestrated by the enigmatic Keyser Söze. Told through the perspective of Verbal Kint, an unreliable narrator, the story weaves through flashbacks and nonlinear sequences, presenting a complex web of deceit and manipulation.

This makes the plot hard to understand on a first viewing, as viewers must navigate through layers of misdirection and varying accounts of events. The film’s clever use of foreshadowing and subtle clues require keen attention to detail. A second viewing is essential to fully appreciate how these elements tie together, ultimately leading to its shocking conclusion.

Under the Skin

Photo Credit: StudioCanal

Under the Skin is a creepy sci-fi movie featuring Scarlett Johansson as an alien disguised as a human, hunting men in Scotland. It has very little dialogue and uses visuals to dive into themes like identity, loneliness, and empathy. The storyline is pretty abstract and the eerie scenes require you to pay close attention. Watching it more than once helps you catch the deeper themes and appreciate its unique way of telling the story.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a landmark sci-fi film with a complex narrative. Its abstract sequences and philosophical themes are challenging to grasp fully. A second viewing helps to unravel its deeper meanings and appreciate its visual artistry.