Irish actor Colin Farrell His career began in English television, but eventually crossed the Atlantic in order to pave a career for himself in Hollywood. His feature film debut was with the 1999 British film The War Zone, in which he starred alongside Tilda Swinton and Ray Winstone. Not even a year later, Farrell got his foot in the door of American filmmaking with the movie Tigerlandwhich was mildly successful among critics, but did not secure a widespread theatrical release.
His first couple of movies in Hollywood were not commercially successful either, but eventually he began to appear in larger and more profitable films. However, the hidden gems in Farrell’s filmography are within his body of work in the independent film scene. Farrell has starred in a wide variety of arthouse and independent movies, working with directors like Sofia Coppola and Yorgos Lanthimos. With an eclectic mix of period, thriller, and comedies, Farrell’s career is impressive in terms of its depth. These are his best indie movies.
7 Crazy Heart
Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Colin Farrell appear in Crazy Heart, a movie about a former country music star (Bridges) chasing his past glory. The country star’s personal life, too, has been on the decline. After a series of failed marriages and being estranged from his 24-year-old son, he meets a woman in Santa Fe, New Mexico in whom he can find solace. Her appearance in his life sparks the motivation to get back on track and find ways to improve his previous relationships before it is too late. This is a story heard a thousand times before in the motivational world, but the performances by the cast elevate it to a new level.
6 The New World
2005’s The New World revisits one of the original sins committed in North America: the arrival of Europeans. The founding of Jamestown, Virginia, occurred in 1807, and this sparked the supposed love story between Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) and Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell). The New World’s scope is similar to an epic poem, as its shots and visuals are quite beautiful, contextualizing this arrival into a grand new world. It refuses to go beyond the era depicted, acting as if this was something happening for the first time in the continent’s human history — and it truly was.
5 The Beguiled
The Beguiled is a classic Sofia Coppola film. Reminiscent of her earlier films like Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Suicides, it tells the story of a wounded Union soldier (Farrell) that stumbles upon a girls boarding school deep in Confederate territory. The women at the school take him in and decide that they will wait to before figuring what to do with him, but this leads to disastrous consequences. It is a slow burn that defies all expectations of female filmmaking; Every character but Farrell is female, and his presence is what sets off a deadly series of events.
4 In Bruges
Farrell won a Golden Globe for his performance as Ray in In Bruges. Ray and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are hitmen, but Ray is still a novice in the art of executing orders. When he accidentally kills a young boy at church, their boss sends them to Bruges in Belgium to hide while the aftermath passes. Ray then meets a girl he falls in love with, thus finding more reasons to be empathetic and humane towards people. Farrell is one of the standout aspects in this dark comedy, as his character has a clear, distinguishable character arc.
3 After Yang
A24’s science fiction film After Yang may be one of 2022’s standout films in the genre. A couple (Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith) have an adoptive daughter (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) and a robot child (Justin H. Min). One day Yang, the robot child, stops responding, and the family discovers that they will need to replace their son. As they access where Yang’s memories are stored, they discover he was more human than they thought, and that he lived an entire life before he joined the family. After Yang acknowledges the limits of technology and humanity, but questions where the line is drawn.
2 The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer was an indie staple in the 2010s. The psychological thriller stars Farrell as Steven Murphy, a surgeon in Ohio. When he meets a young man in a diner (Barry Keoghan), he befriends the boy after discovering his entire family is dead and brings him into his home. However, soon after Murphy’s family mysteriously begins to fall ill. Unsettling and horrifying, The Killing of a Sacred Deer unfolds like the Greek tragedy it was inspired.
1 The Lobster
The Lobster was Lanthimos’ film before The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and it did not disappoint. The movie screened first at the Cannes Film Festival and TIFF. A man (Farrell) discovers his wife is cheating on him. If he does not find a partner in 45 days, he will morph into an animal. He has the ability to choose which animal he can turn into, so he decides he will become a lobster. A satire on how dependent society has become on the notion of needing to have romantic relationships, the movie forced brilliantly manages to create a love story independent of what is by two different societies.
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