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10 Inspiring Movies About a Character Rebuilding Their Life

Motivational movies need not end with a victory or a rags-to-riches story. Some films assure that life is worthwhile even when the going gets tough, as long as one has the right support system. This is the central theme of most inspiring characters who start from scratch after a colossal crisis in their life. These films stress on systems of mental health, sports, and guidance from a mentor, which help people rebuild their lives.

The performances and stories of these films tend to be Academy Award favorites for their dramatic prowess. Here are 10 inspiring films that remind us to never give up on ourselves.

10 The Pursuit of Happyness

Sony Pictures

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the real-life ordeals faced by Chris Gardner. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film stars Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a single father to his five-year-old son, facing homelessness in San Francisco. He invests his entire savings in portable bone-density scanners, which he pitched as a salesman to medical practitioners. However, when the business dwindles, his financial crisis takes over his marriage and apartment. Chris and his son are forced to live in the streets. However, things look hopeful when he lands an internship position at a brokerage firm, which he completes without pay. Later, Chris is hired as an employee, ending his year of homelessness and financial misery. He makes it a point to support his son throughout his hardships and gives him hope while living out of a suitcase without a roof over their head. Will Smith was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, making his character symbolic of perseverance, hard work and hope.

Related: Motivational Movies For Self-Improvement

9 Rocky

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky
United Artists

The iconic sports drama, Rocky, was written by Sylvester Stallone in three days before he starred as Rocky Balboa in the film. The film follows Balboa’s journey as a working-class journeyman southpaw boxer and a loanshark debt collector who is selected for the world heavyweight championship against Apollo Creed. Rocky sees an opportunity to come out of his financial struggles and trains vigorously with former bantamweight fighter turned trainer Mickey Goldmill. Rocky finds a soft corner for his friend’s sister, who provides emotional support in his inspiring journey.

Several training scenes from the film have inspired montages in sports films that express the intensity and determination of the character. The famous scene where Rocky runs the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art has become iconic. Today, the entrance is popularly referred to as Rocky Steps, inspiring several fitness enthusiasts to run daily on the staircase, adding a fitting legacy to the Oscar-winning film.

8 Jerry Maguire

Jerry MaGuire
Sony Pictures Releasing

Jerry Maguire sees a sports agent hit rock bottom and rebuild his career on his own terms. The film was directed by Cameron Crowe and stars Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire, who writes a mission statement after being frustrated with the profit-minded work culture in his sports management company. He proposes that the company hire fewer clients and build a personal relationship with the players. This gets him fired, and he starts his own management firm. He asks the office if anyone wants to join him on his last day. A single mother, Dorothy, joins him on his shaky venture. Jerry risks it all by only managing one client, Rod Tidwell. Dorothy and Jerry fall in love, but the business does not go as planned and their relationship staggers. However, Jerry’s passion and players-first attitude gets him the respect he deserves. The film confronts the moral vacuum of corporate enterprises and gives a refreshing perspective on choosing passion over profit.

7 A Beautiful Mind

Russel Crowe stands in front of an equations filled chalkboard in A Beautiful Mind
Universal Pictures

A Beautiful Mind is the biopic of John Nash, which details the mathematicians struggle with schizophrenia and his hyper-intelligence. The film establishes Nash as a socially awkward genius who peaks early in the field of mathematics as a graduate student in Princeton University. However, Nash struggles with his undiagnosed neuro divergence and secretly suffers from schizophrenia. He shows clear signs of mental illness in the late 1950s and is admitted to psychiatric hospitals for his treatment. The film shows how his relationship with his partner Alicia and his career suffered for the same. It ends with Nash winning the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, after he learns to live with his hallucinations.

The film is poignant in its portraying the permanence of mental illness and how an emotional support can help a victim have more control over one’s life.

6 Cast Away

20th Century Fox

Cast Away is a survival drama exploring the nightmares of a sole survivor of a plane crash. Chuck, played by Tom Hanks, is a FedEx troubleshooter who survives a plane crash and is stranded on an island. The plot explores how he desperately tries to save his life, give himself company with an imaginary friens, and is finally rescued by a cargo ship. The film does not end here. Chuck discovers he was declared dead, and his beloved wife married another man and has a daughter. The film focuses on how he copes with what he has lost and gained from the unfortunate event and chooses to move on.

Hanks joined the project to explore hopelessness and survival through food, water, shelter, fire and company in an extreme situation. He was inspired after reading an article about cargo planes carrying packages flying across the Pacific Ocean thrice a day. This gave the idea of the plane crash and how one survives on an island with a few leftover packages. The film is sure to inspire people to move on with life, no matter the impact of any adversity.

5 Silver Linings Playbook

The Weinstein Company

Silver Linings Playbook is another film that deals with the collective coping of mental health. Bradley Cooper gives an award-winning performance as Pat Solatano who suffers from bipolar disorder. He loses his job, catches his wife cheating, and spends time in a mental institution after he relapses. After he returns, he is motivated to rebuild his life and reconnect with his ex-wife. However, his chaotic family wants him to be more dedicated to their passion for the Philadelphia Eagles. When a young widow named Tiffany enter Pat’s life, things begin to look more hopeful as she rehabilitates him in her own twisted way.

The film shows how an entire family suffers and copes with their son’s illness, which was inspired by director David O Russel’s son struggle with mental illness. It was applauded for its realism and the portrayal of familial dysfunction as a consequence of bipolar disorder.

4 Little Miss Sunshine

The Hoover family travels to California
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Little Miss Sunshine is an unlikely motivational film. The film follows the dysfunctional Hoover family, with each member reaching a breaking point. Richard is a failed coach, and his overworked wife now cares for her suicidal brother. Their son Dwayne has taken a vow of silence until he becomes a fighter pilot. He finds out he is ineligible for the same for being color-blind. His grandfather has been evicted from a retirement home for consuming heroin. They get together on a worn-out VW bus for the youngest daughter’s beauty pageant, which seems to be the only thing keeping the family together.

The tragic comedy does not promise a rags-to-riches story. In fact, the characters remain miserable throughout the film. However, it convinces the audience that life goes on, just like the broken VW bus and is filled with surprises that makes it worthwhile.

3 Good Will Hunting

Matt Damon and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting
Miramax Films

Good Will Hunting shows the long-term effects of sexual abuse on an adult and how therapy and mentorship can help one fight their internal battles. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, who works as a janitor in MIT. He has a high-level IQ and is at par with the students in the university. However, he faces an emotional crisis that holds him from realizing his potential. When his talents are discovered by a professor, he is referred to a therapist named Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams, who helps him accept his trauma and sets him free off his insecurities. Hunting hides behind his arrogance until Sean helps him face and accept his vulnerabilities, evolving him into an emotionally mature person. The film shows how a high IQ does not equal to a high EQ, and the latter remains important to live a fulfilled life.

2 50/50

50/50 starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen
Summit Entertainment

50/50 gives a comical but heartfelt take on coping with terminal illness. The film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam Lerner, a regular Joe who finds out he has malignant tumors along his spine that can be fatal. All of a sudden, his insensitive colleagues, negligent mother and toxic girlfriend act sympathetic as they fear his death. The only person who remains honest and supports him is his friend Kyle, played by Seth Rogen. Adam seeks therapy to deal with his health crisis and forms a friendship with the therapist, conflicting the boundaries between a doctor and a patient.

The dramatic performance by Gordon Levitt was applauded, but it is Seth Rogen’s performance as the unfiltered but secretly caring Kyle, that stays in one’s mind after the film is over. At the end, Adam is successful in fighting his illness and is ready for new relationships in his life.

Related: 20 Highly Inspirational Movies

1 Up

Up Movie Scene featuring Carl
Walt Disney Studios

Up made history as the second animated feature film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film follows a 78-year-old childless widow named Carl, who copes with his wife’s demise and loneliness. He decides to go on an adventure by tying several balloons to his house and flying away to Paradise Island, being inspired by the explorer Charles Muntz. He is accompanied by Russell, who is also keen on exploring but mostly wants the last merit badge from Carl for assisting an elderly. He tags along with Carl on his odyssey to reach Paradise Island.

The film explores the last stages of a man’s life, when Carl becomes child-like again, and makes a new friend in a much younger Russell. The iconic montage of the couple marrying and growing old together remains one of its most memorable moments.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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