Monologues are intense. They’re intense partly because they’re just so long; if it’s done well, a monologue can keep you enraptured, swept up in the actor’s flawless delivery of oh-so-many lines. A lot of movies contain these speeches, and of the ones that I’ve seen, there are many, many amazing ones, but only a handful of them – whether because of content or acting or some other super impressive reason – have really resonated with me. Here are five of my favorite film monologues:
1. Bill from Kill Bill – Superman
“When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter-ego is Clark Kent … Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak. He’s unsure of himself. He’s a coward.
Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.”
The Kill Bill volumes are one (two?) of my favorite films of all time. All time. And this little speech, delivered during the climax of the final volume by Bill (David Carradine) is amazing. Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) has spent two whole films meticulously dispatching Bill’s band of followers and chasing him down only to find out that her baby, the baby that she thought she lost, is alive and well and in Bill’s care. And then Bill sits her down (with the help of a tranquilizer) and gives her this speech.
It’s the last showdown at sunset between two people who used to be (and in many ways still are) in love with each other. Besides the intriguing surface analysis of comic book superheroes, Beatrix catches on pretty quickly that Bill is also talking about her – “are you calling me a superhero?” The entire last act of the film is actually pretty amiable considering all the build up. One would expect Beatrix to go in guns blazing, so to speak, but instead she has a mild conversation and even laughs with Bill.
But Bill murdered The Bride’s fiance and friends, nearly killed her, and then stole her baby, so he has to die.
2. Johnny Quid from RocknRolla – Virginia Killing Sticks
“Oh, beauty is a beguiling call to death and I’m addicted to the sweet pitch of its siren. That that starts sweet ends bitter, and that which starts bitter ends sweet. That is why you and I love the drugs, and that is also why I cannot give that painting back.
Now, please. Pass me a light.”
I have a soft spot for Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) that’s borne out of my endless love for stick-thin, dark-haired, bitingly sarcastic characters with daddy issues who swear a lot and smoke even more. (That’s an oddly specific character sketch, I know, but you’d be surprised just how many actually fit it.) RocknRolla is full of hilarious scenes, and also has Mark Strong and Idris Elba in it (swoon), so when I say that this monologue is my favorite bit of the entire film, I’m saying a lot.
It’s one of Johnny’s few serious moments where he isn’t bouncing around being a theatrical nuisance to everyone around him, and in it he lays out some stark truths about the world and about himself. He also plays the piano really, really well during. Oh, and we get to watch his asshole of a father get beaten up with a golf club while he monologues.
In a word, this scene is priceless.
3. Evelyn Stoker from Stoker – Why We Have Children
“You know, I’ve often wondered why it is we have children in the first place. And the conclusion I’ve come to is… at some point in our lives, we realize things are… they’re screwed up beyond repair. So we decide to start again, wipe the slate clean. Start fresh.
And we have children.”
This one may be a bit premature since the movie hasn’t actually come out yet, but when this little teaser clip came out for Stoker my eyes were glued to my laptop screen. Every word Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman) said reverberated with me, because though her words might not be true for everyone, with my personal experience they do ring a little true for me. And the fact that she’s saying this not to an empty room, or to a trusted friend and confidant, but to her daughter…
As I said previously, two of the reasons why a monologue is memorable to me are that the content is superb, or the delivery is excellent. Both are true for this bit, which is why I put it on the list even before seeing the movie, and why I think it will remain on my favorites list long afterwards.
4. NGE: The End of Evangelion – Where Is My Reality?
This convenient fabrication is your attempt to change reality.
Is that wrong?
You are using fantasy to escape reality.
Why can’t I dream that I’m alone?
That is not a dream. That is a substitute for reality.
So where is my dream?
It is a continuation of reality.
But where is my reality?
It is at the end of your dream.
Watching the Neon Genesis Evangelion series was a formative experience for me in my childhood, which probably explains why I became such a fucked up individual in my adult years. (Anyone who’s seen it totally knows what I’m talking about.) Regardless, this exchange between Rei and Shinji is my favorite scene in the all 26 episodes of the anime, both movies, and the rebuild. Wait, what’s that? Exchange? But Christine, how can dialogue be on a list detailing monologues?!
because it’s my article and I can do what I want Because the situation surrounding this particular scene is a bit fuzzy. Shinji, towards the end of the series, spends a lot of time withdrawn deep inside his head. A lot of it, though real to him, isn’t really happening outside of him. Shinji may or may not actually be talking to Rei – and if he isn’t, which is what I suspect, then he is only talking to himself and confirming his own fears, and his need to be in a world that won’t demonize him for his choices. Booyah. That qualifies it as an inner monologue.
About hating himself, and wanting to shut himself away from the world so he doesn’t have the responsibility of saving humanity on his shoulders, and his gargantuan set of daddy issues.
Do you see why this was not a good show for me to watch at like ten years old?
5. Raoul Silva from Skyfall – Rats On An Island
“After a month, we had trapped all the rats. But what do you do then? Throw the drum into the ocean? Burn it? No, you just leave it. And they became very hungry. And one by one… they start eating each other, until there are only two left. The two survivors. And then what, do you kill them? No. You take them and release them into the trees.
But now they don’t eat coconut anymore. Now they only eat rat.”
Part of what makes the villain’s grand entrance in Skyfall so awesome is that it isn’t all that grand an entrance at all. It’s actually really understated. The camera is positioned from behind James Bond, and then all the way on the other side of a warehouse, up comes Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) on an elevator. He’s so far away that the audience can barely even see him. And as he slowly meanders closer to Bond, closer to the screen, he spouts this long winded tale about rats and rat-cannibalism and it’s all just so unsettling. The first time I saw it, I remember physically recoiling in my seat because his words and falsely jovial demeanor were creeping me out.
Taken, because it’s hilarious how many different ways this thing has been spoofed.
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
What are some of the memorable film monologues that you’ve seen? Do you have your own favorites list? Comment below and I’ll give you cookies*!