Best Films with Interconnecting Stories

We take a look back at the best films with seemingly separate stories that weave together…

THIRD PERSON is released in Irish cinemas this week; the film, written and directed by Paul Haggis, ties three stories of love together to create one theme and one message. With this in mind, took a look back at other films that used this storytelling device to their benefit…


Let’s start with the film that film that won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Screenplay; CRASH.
CRASH is set in LA and tells interlocking stories of the rich and the poor, people from all walks of life; people from all ethnic backgrounds who have all had their lives touched by racism in some way. All are victims and all are perpetrators, and CRASH is a film that focuses on the assumptions people make about those they meet, without actually getting to know them.
CRASH stars Thandie Newton, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Espositio and Don Cheadle, and is a film about coincidence and serendipity, and the lives of the people we meet by chance.


One of the films that immediately comes to mind when thinking of interconnecting stories is Paul Thomas Anderson’s MAGNOLIA. Anotehr film set in LA, MAGNOLIA looks at the relationships between the young and the old, children and parents, new lovers and old friends. Initially feeling like a short film anthology, each of the tales is engaging and moving in its own right, but when the characters begin to bleed into the other tales, a larger story emerges.
Beautifully soundtracked by Aimee Mann, and starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy, MAGNOLIA is a film that, at it’s heart, is profoundly human.


Quentin Tarantino’s second film PULP FICTION takes the interconnecting story format and runs with it, but still manages to hold onto the idea that the stories of mobsters, gangsters, their lovers and a mysterious briefcase are separate, they just happen to have characters that turn up in one another’s tales.
Tarantino made PULP FICTION a highly stylised film, with events often told out of order and little quirks – such as disaster striking whenever Vincent Vega uses the bathroom – scattered throughout the film. As well as this, Tarantino pays loving homage to the films that inspired him, and is self-referential from the opening moments of the film.
PULP FICTION stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Plummer, Uma Thurman and our own Bronagh Gallagher in a darkly comic, dialogue heavy but engaging film.


Celebrated director Robert Altman turned his hand to the interlocking story format of filmmaking in 1993, with SHORT CUTS; a film that was inspired by the writings of Raymond Carver. Set in LA – as these films often are – SHORT CUTS traces the actions of 22 central characters, and the affect that luck and coincidence plays in their lives.
Altman’s film, by focusing on so many characters, allows the idea that people we only briefly encounter can have an impact on our lives, to shine through. As well as this, the film reinforces the idea that life is often filled with coincidence – coincidence that is not always noticed at the time – and the idea that we, as people, are never truly in control of our destiny.


The first film in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s so-called Trilogy of Death – followed by 21 GRAMS and BABEL – AMOES PERROS has been referred to as the Mexican PULP FICTION. The three stories in the film are connected by a car accident, but the theme of loyalty runs strongly through the film.
Dogs appear throughout AMORES PERROS – arguably the most devoted of pets – and in each story the main character struggles with loyalty, or a lack of it, in their lives; a brother being betrayed through the seduction of his wife, a wife being let down by her husband keeping a mistress and the loss of loyalty to youthful ideals.
AMORES PERROS was nominated for an Oscar, and won a BAFTA and the top prize at Critic’s Week at the Cannes Film Festival.
Honourable Mentions to: CLOUD ATLAS, TRAFFIC and LOVE, ACTUALLY.

THIRD PERSON is released in Irish cinemas on November 14th, 2014

Words: Brogen Hayes