Trouble in Mind: The Best Movie, Music, TV, Literature and Drama for a Guilty Conscience | Culture


Film

Guilt can be borne in different ways: with an open grimace of shame or buried so far below the surface that the person concerned doesn’t even realize it’s there. This second scenario is the stuff of the haunting Mr. Klein morality tale. Directed by the great Joseph Losey, the star is Alain Delon, chosen as a profiteer in Paris occupied by the Nazis. His company buys the property of Jewish Parisians who are desperately looking for ways to escape the city. The prices he offers are cruelly low – and for Mr. Klein, business is good. But as the story turns into an identity crisis, his own ethical debts are called upon. Consciousness always keeps track. Danny Leigh


TV

(Left to right) Nadine Velaquez, Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly and Eddie Steeples in My Name is Earl. Photo: Channel 4

HP Lovecraft defended the famous philosophy of indifference, saying, “I don’t make the mistake of thinking that the…cosmos…couldn’t give a damn.” Yet even the irreligious among us are inclined to imagine that the slightest misfortune could be karmic retribution for past deeds. In My Name Is Earl, Earl Hickey comes to this conclusion when he loses a $100,000 lottery ticket after being hit by a car, only finding it when he atones for his past sins. The sitcom sees Earl struggle with a guilty conscience as he lists those he has transgressed against and attempts to make amends. Viewed cynically, it’s like reciting 10 Hail Marys after a lifetime of church-hopping. Jason Okundaye


Music

Dave performing at the O2 Academy Brixton in 2019.
Dave performing at the O2 Academy Brixton in 2019. Photography: Ollie Millington/Redferns

A highlight of Dave’s 2021 album, We’re Alone in This Together, Survivor’s guilt paints a disarmingly honest picture of Dave’s trajectory from working-class teenager to model celebrity, acknowledging all the instances of casual colorism and toxic alpha-masculinity that almost tripped him up in class. road. A rich tangle of sex, ego, loneliness and – indeed – guilt, it sits alongside Drake’s Marvin’s Room as an example of breaking the fourth wall of vulnerable, self-reflecting rap; a style for which the genre is all the healthier. jenessa williams


Books

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.

Joseph Conrad said that the hero of his novel Lord Jim suffers from “a keen awareness of lost honour”. In a moment of terror, Jim abandons his post on a sinking ship, jumping into a lifeboat and leaving 800 passengers to drown. “It was as if I had jumped into a well – into an eternal deep hole,” he says. This sense of falling dominates the rest of this remarkable book. Conrad makes us see and feel every painful inch of descent. Sam Jordan


Arrange

Left to right: Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Rhashan Stone and Nicola Hughes in Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury.
(Left to right) Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Rhashan Stone and Nicola Hughes in Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Photography: Marc Brenner

Jackie Sibblies Drury’s extraordinary play Fairview begins in a fairly ordinary way, with an African-American family gathered for a birthday party. Gradually, however, things begin to warp into a unique theatrical experience that will have many squirming uncomfortably in their seats. A subtle sense of guilt creeps into the periphery of things. Booming white voices loudly invade spaces they shouldn’t. In a shocking twist, some viewers find themselves no longer watching – but being watched. The stomach knots. The brain is humming. Curtain down. Miriam Gillinson

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