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8 Movies Like Bardo You Must See

December 19, 2022

The Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu directed a surreal drama film Bardo, False Chronicle of a Fistful of Truths. The plot follows Silverio Gama (Daniel Giménez Cacho), an acclaimed Mexican journalist-turned-documentary filmmaker. He returns to his native country days before becoming the first Latin American to receive a prestigious award for his work in America. As Silverio’s life unfolds on screen, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish what is real and what is not.

Bardo is Iñárritu’s most personal film, and Silverio is a kind of stand-in for him. But the filmmaker has repeatedly emphasized that the film is not an autobiography, but a fictionalized version of certain truths. If you’ve seen Bardo and loved it, here’s a list of recommendations that might suit your tastes. You can watch most of these movies like Bardo on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

8. America (2002)

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Directed by Jim Sheridan, who wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay with his daughters Naomi and Kirsten, In America tells the story of an Irish immigrant family who come to New York from Ireland via Canada and settle in a small apartment in Hell’s Kitchen set up. The apartment building they live in doesn’t seem particularly friendly, but the family grows closer to their neighbors through mutual respect. Meanwhile, family patriarch Johnny Sullivan struggles with an uncertain acting career, but Sarah finds a job at an ice cream shop. It turns out the Sullivans are dealing with the grief of losing their son, Frankie. In America has all the signs of a cathartic exercise. Like Bardo and other entries on this list, it celebrates an immigrant family and underscores how our loved ones influence our artistic sensibilities.

7.Belfast (2021)

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If Bardo is a personal story for Iñárritu, the same can be said of filmmaker Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. Set in the city of the same name in Northern Ireland, the action follows a nine-year-old Ulster Protestant boy named Buddy and his working-class family who are living through one of the most chaotic times in recent Irish history: the Troubles. As the country is torn apart by religious violence, Buddy’s family begins to seriously consider the possibility of immigration.

6. The Fabelmans (2022)

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Another personal work of a modern author, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans follows Samuel Sammy Fabelman, a teenager who dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Sammy moves his family from city to city for his father’s work, but his love of cinema and desire to be a filmmaker won’t wane. Sammy finds out his mother is having an affair with his favorite uncle, leading to the fragmentation of the family, but Sammy stands firm. Like Silverio in Bardo and Buddy in Belfast, Sammy is a stand-in for Spielberg. While The Fabelmans is a much more down-to-earth film than Bardo, the two films are similar in many ways. Both celebrate family, arts and culture and are better representatives of their respective filmmakers’ works.

5. Holy Motors (2012)

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Holy Motors has a complex narrative that seems to be in a perpetual state of unrest. The protagonist, who calls himself Mr. Oscar, seems to travel from one film to the next, portraying a variety of characters – from an elderly beggar on the Pont Alexandre III in Paris to a father who confronts his daughter about her lack of social skills arguing, all the way to a red-haired man kidnapping a beautiful model. Mr. Oscar is accompanied on his journey by his driver Celine. Like Bardo, Holy Motors can be annoying and frustrating due to the meandering narrative cloaked in dreamlike elements and surrealism.

4. Babylon (2006)

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The concluding chapter of Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga’s Death trilogy, Babel is one of the finest examples of hyperlinked cinema, where multiple stories are woven into a complex narrative. In Babel, the story spans four countries: Morocco, Japan, the United States and Mexico, and revolves around an ensemble of characters. Like Bardo, Babel doesn’t necessarily have a linear narrative. Richard and Susan Jones (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) come to Morocco on vacation, where Susan is accidentally shot by a boy named Yussef. The gun Yussef shot Susan with is traced back to Japan.

Meanwhile, Amelia, Richard and Susan’s children’s nanny, decides to take her charges to Mexico for her son’s wedding. Death is a recurring motif in Iñárritu’s work, and Bardo is no exception, but it is particularly evident in Babel and the other films in the trilogy. Both films also share a certain aesthetic associated with Iñárritu.

3. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

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When Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman made Fanny and Alexander, the semi-autobiographical film was to be his final work. Ultimately, he continued to direct well into his 80s. Like Bardo and other films on this list, Fanny and Alexander owes its existence to the director’s desire for self-exploration. The historical film revolves around the characters of the same name, the children of the wealthy Ekdahl family. They lead a happy life in a Swedish town in 1907, but after the sudden death of Alexander and Fanny’s father, their mother marries the local bishop Edvard Vergérus, whose authoritarian nature makes Alexander’s life miserable.

2. The Tree of Life (2011)

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Despite being a filmmaker since the 1970s, writer-director Terrence Malick has only made a handful of films, but each one has been a masterpiece, and The Tree of Life is no exception. Like Bardo, this film is deeply personal to its creator and brims with autobiographical elements. The Tree of Life also contains aspects that are incredibly surrealistic. The plot follows the childhood memories of a man named Jack (Sean Penn) who often ventures out of the ordinary to explore the origins of the universe. The titles of both films are also heavily peppered with theological symbolism.

1. Mirror (1975)

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Bardo is such a unique and whimsical film that it’s almost impossible to find a film that can be considered its twin, but Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror comes close. Both can be viewed as deeply personal reflections from their respective filmmakers, surrealistic and bound together by a non-linear narrative. Mirror focuses on Aleksei, or Aljoscha, at different stages of his life. The film consists of three primary time planes set around World War II: the pre-war period (1935), the war period (1940s) and the post-war period (1960s or 70s), and the action alternates between them. The plot alternates between the three time levels. The narrative also meanders regularly, exploring memories, dreams and newsreels, using the filmmaker’s own childhood as inspiration.