Memory (2023): Explore 8 Poignant Drama Films Just Like It

Helmed by Michel Franco, ‘Memory’ is a drama film that follows a social worker with a traumatic past as he takes care of a man living with dementia and eventually develops a mutually healing bond with him. Sylvia is a single mother and recovering alcoholic who reluctantly goes to her high school reunion. Upon returning home, she is followed by one of the attendants, who had smiled at her at the reunion. Looking out of her window, she sees him getting drenched in the rain and still finds him sitting there the next day. Upon contacting his next of kin, Sylvia discovers that his name is Saul and that he has early-onset dementia, owing to which he has forgotten past events and struggles to make new memories.

Sylvia is hired by Saul’s family to take care of him and keep him company during the days by going on walks with him. As they get to know each other, their secrets surface, and they find comfort in each other’s presence. However, their relationship faces impediments due to his condition, as well as each of their families. The film narrates a poignant tale of love, acceptance, and loss, underscored by brilliant performances by its leads, Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard. Movies like ‘Memory’ have the power to touch upon dreaded themes with subtlety and care, interweaving them with romance and complex relationships into heartfelt, life-affirming tales.

8. Irreplaceable You (2018)

‘Irreplaceable You,’ directed by Stephanie Laing, follows the journey of Abbie, who discovers she has terminal cancer and begins to navigate her life’s final chapter. Determined to ensure her fiancé, Sam, will be taken care of after her passing, Abbie sets out to find him a new partner before she’s gone. As Abbie embarks on this unconventional quest, she grapples with her own emotions and struggles to come to terms with her mortality.

Along the way, she forms unlikely bonds with other cancer patients who are also facing their own battles. Amidst the sadness and uncertainty, Abbie learns valuable lessons about love, friendship, and the importance of cherishing every moment. Like ‘Memory,’ the story of ‘Irreplaceable You’ showcases the power of love to transcend grief and trauma, enabling the characters in both films to live to their fullest despite the tragedies that befall them.

7. Midnight Sun (2018)

The story of ‘Midnight Sun’ revolves around Katie Price, a young woman with a rare genetic condition that makes her highly sensitive to sunlight. Confined to her home during the day, Katie spends her nights at a local train station, where she sings for commuters with her beautiful voice and guitar. One fateful night, she meets Charlie, a kind-hearted and charismatic boy who is instantly drawn to her. Despite her condition, Katie is determined to experience life to the fullest, and she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Charlie. As their relationship blossoms, Katie must confront the challenges of her illness and the limitations it places on their time together.

Much like Saul from ‘Memory,’ the film features a character with a crippling health condition that places a dire constraint over their life and love. Despite the odds, both Saul and Katie find someone they feel a sense of belonging with, lifting our collective spirits. Directed by Scott Speer, ‘Midnight Sun’ is a poignant tale of love, courage, and the power of living in the moment, even when the odds are stacked against you.

6. All the Bright Places (2020)

A Brett Haley directorial, ‘All the Bright Places’ revolves around Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, two high school students who find solace in each other’s company amidst their struggles with mental health issues. Violet is coping with the loss of her sister in a car accident, while Finch battles undiagnosed bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts. As they work on a school project together, their friendship deepens into a romantic relationship, and they embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing. Similar to ‘Memory,’ ‘All the Bright Places’ explores the troubled pasts of its characters and how they come together to create moments of beauty and connection in the midst of their pain.

5. Five Feet Apart (2019)

Under the direction of Justin Baldoni, ‘Five Feet Apart’ centers on the lives of two teenagers, Stella and Will, who are forever changed when they meet while undergoing treatment for cystic fibrosis in a hospital. Despite their instant connection, their illness prevents them from being closer than six feet apart to avoid cross-infection. As Stella, a rule-abiding patient, and Will, a rebellious artist, navigate the challenges of their condition, they develop a deep bond that transcends their physical barriers.

Their shared experiences, hopes, and fears bring them together in ways they never imagined. Both ‘Memory’ and ‘Five Feet Apart’ take on romances developed under unfortunate circumstances, but create a sense of pure self-discovery and acceptance through them. Despite the tremendous uncertainties of their relationships, couples in both films choose to be together.

4. Dying Young (1991)

In the directorial hands of Joel Schumacher, ‘Dying Young’ centers on Hilary O’Neil (Julia Roberts), a young woman struggling to find her purpose in life. Desperate for a job, she accepts a position as a live-in caretaker for Victor Geddes, a wealthy and terminally ill young man. Initially distant, Victor gradually opens up to Hilary, and they form a deep emotional bond. As Hilary cares for Victor during his treatment, their relationship evolves into a passionate romance.

However, the shadow of Victor’s illness looms large over their happiness, and they must navigate the challenges of his declining health together. The romances of ‘Memory’ and ‘Dying Young’ share a very similar premise, and are made believable by poignant performances by their actors.

3. Three of Us (2022)

Shailaja Desai is a middle-aged woman who has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Wishing to visit her childhood home in the coastal region of southern India before her memories of it fade, she and her husband travel to Konkan. There she meets her childhood love, Pradip Kamat, who is married himself. Along with Pradip, Shailaja rediscovers the neighborhoods, classrooms, and retreats she grew up around, forming an increasingly profound bond with Pradip as they take a trip down memory lane together.

Helmed by Avinash Arun, ‘Three of Us’ deals with the issue of early-onset dementia, traumatic pasts, and an unexpected bond similar to ‘Memory.’ With the narrative dripping with nostalgia, fueled by gorgeous visuals and thought-provoking conversations, fans of Michel Franco’s work will find themselves gripped by the Netflix film.

2. Still Alice (2014)

Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, ‘Still Alice’ delves into the poignant story of Dr. Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor faced with an unexpected diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice’s once flourishing life is abruptly disrupted as she grapples with the relentless progression of her condition, which slowly erases her memories, identity, and autonomy.

As her cognitive abilities decline, Alice struggles to maintain her sense of self and navigate the profound impact on her relationships with her loving family. Amidst the turmoil, Alice finds solace and moments of clarity in her unwavering love for her family and having no choice but to live in the present. Comparable to ‘Memory’ with a character suffering from memory loss, the film’s introspection will resonate with those who appreciate similar thought-provoking elements in Michel Franco’s movie.

1. Love & Other Drugs (2010)

With Edward Zwick in the director’s chair, ‘Love & Other Drugs’ narrates the tale of Jamie Randall, a charming pharmaceutical salesman, and Maggie Murdock, a free-spirited artist living with Parkinson’s disease. Set against the backdrop of the pharmaceutical industry in the late 1990s, the film explores Jamie’s ambitious pursuit of success in a cutthroat corporate environment, driven by his innate charm and persuasive skills. However, Jamie’s life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Maggie, whose feisty demeanor and refusal to conform to societal norms captivate him.

Their initial attraction quickly blossoms into a passionate romance, defying the boundaries of conventional relationships. Yet, as their love deepens, they must confront the realities of Maggie’s progressive illness, challenging their ability to sustain their connection amidst adversity. Just as Sylvia, from ‘Memory,’ makes a conscious decision to commit to a partner whose conditions may create enormous burdens for her in the future, so does Jamie. Both films create compelling romances with tearful elements of vulnerability, acceptance, and resilience.

Read More: Memory (2023): Is the Jessica Chastain Film Based on a True Story?