Hitting theaters today, Darren Aronofsky’s much-anticipated Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as a tortured ballerina in the midst of a mental breakdown. Portman’s performance is the latest in a long line of films featuring women on the edge. Here are some other films that fit the bill.

Repulsion (1965)
directed by Roman Polanski

This disturbing psychological thriller was the first English language film made by the always controversial Polanski. It concerns a sexually repressed young woman (Catherine Deneuve) who finds herself losing her mind—hallucinating elaborate fantasies of rape and seduction—when she’s left alone in the apartment she shares with her sister. With its claustrophobic setting (some call this the first in Polanski’s “apartment trilogy,” which also includes the similarly paranoid, disturbing films Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant) and surreal dream sequences, Repulsion makes for an unnerving journey into a disturbed woman’s psyche.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
directed by John Cassavetes

This thought-provoking character study from indie innovator Cassavetes casts Gena Rowlands (the director’s wife) in the role of a lifetime as Mabel Longhetti, a lonely, neurotic stay at home mom, desperate for social interaction. She encounters no help from her blustery, short-tempered husband, Nick (Peter Falk), who decides to commit her for psychiatric treatment, despite the fact that his personality is even more damaged than hers. With its cinema verite-like style, A Woman Under the Influence deals with its characters’ flaws head-on. Rowlands’ bold, soul-baring performance is a must-see. (Rowlands was nominated for—and robbed of—a Best Actress Oscar for her performance). At the time of its release, Richard Dreyfuss, on “The Mike Douglas Show,” said of Cassavetes’ emotionally draining masterpiece, “the most incredible, disturbing, scary, brilliant, dark, sad, depressing movie… I went crazy. I went home and vomited.“

Carrie (1976)
directed by Brian De Palma

Based on Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie features two women veering toward a nervous breakdown—the title character (Sissy Spacek), a lonely, socially inept high school misfit, and her controlling, religious fanatic mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie). Both women unleash their repressed anger at the end of the film when Carrie, after being humiliatingly drenched in pig’s blood at the high school prom, takes revenge on her fellow classmates and teachers by using her violent telekinetic powers. Later at home, Margaret, terrified that she will no longer be able to dominate her daughter, stabs Carrie, who, in turn, kills her. While the story on-screen was fairly grisly, off-screen there proved to be a happy ending—both Spacek and Laurie were nominated for Oscars (for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively).

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
directed by Pedro Almodóvar

This offbeat comedy-drama from Spanish master Almodóvar (who has centered many of his films around complicated female characters) details two days in the life of Pepa (Carmen Maura), a professional movie dubber who finds herself experiencing an array of emotions as she tracks down her married lover. Co-starring Antonio Banderas, the film proved to be a surprise international success, and was nominated in 1989 for Best Foreign-language Film. Despite being released more than 20 years ago, the film’s popularity has continued to grow—in fact, it was just recently turned into a buzz-worthy Broadway musical starring Patti LuPone.

Ashley Judd stars in Bug (2007)

Bug (2007)
directed by William Friedkin

Friedkin (The Exorcist) returns to the genre that made him a household name in Bug, a creepy-crawly adaptation of the play by Tony Award-winner Tracy Letts (August: Osage County). Ashley Judd stars as a woman driven to madness after she befriends Peter, a mentally ill drifter (Michael Shannon, delivering a convincingly crazy performance in a role he first played on the stage). The two lonely souls hole up in a seedy motel room, where Peter convinces her that invisible bugs have been implanted in their skin. Things get considerably more looney from there, as he draws Judd into a web of madness. With its claustrophobic setting and unnerving subject matter (in which the line between reality and delusion becomes ever more blurred), Bug hearkens back to Repulsion, with its intense, no-holds-barred treatment of schizophrenia. This minor gem sailed under the radar when it was first released, and is definitely worth another look.