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Dramas based on contemporary literature on Netflix

Last updated February 07, 2023

Big Fish Poster

Big Fish

2003 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

In this disarming fantasy told largely through flashbacks, young reporter William Bloom attempts to learn more about his dying father by finding the truth behind a lifetime of his fanciful tall tales and legends of epic proportions.
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The Fat Boy Chronicles Poster

The Fat Boy Chronicles

2010 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

Overweight teenager Jimmy Winterpock transfers to a new school, where he's mercilessly bullied by classmates. After he starts keeping a journal that puts him in touch with his feelings, he resolves to lose weight and win the girl of his dreams.
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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple Poster

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

2001 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

When recently widowed Arvella Whipple pulls up stakes and moves her family from New England to a California gold-rush town, her teenage daughter hates their new home. But with time, she learns to appreciate her frontier environment.
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What's Eating Gilbert Grape Poster

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

1993 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

In a backwater Iowa town, Gilbert struggles to take care of his mentally disabled brother, Arnie, and provide for the rest of his family. But after falling for the stranded Becky, Gilbert discovers exciting new possibilities for his life.
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The Devil's Double Poster

The Devil's Double

2011 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

Dominic Cooper stars as Uday Hussein -- Saddam Hussein's depraved, decadent elder son -- and as Latif Yahia, the army lieutenant forcibly drafted to be his body double, in this drama based on Yahia's autobiographical novel.
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Paraiso Travel Poster

Paraiso Travel

2007 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

After a long journey from Colombia to a new life in New York City, Marlon (Aldemar Correa) is separated from his beloved, Reina (Angelica Blandon), and must fend for his own in the dangerous streets of Queens, where he gets a menial job in a restaurant. While flashbacks reveal details of the couple's trek to America, Marlon starts to fall for an aspiring singer (Margarita Rosa de Francisco) in this gripping drama that also stars John Leguizamo.
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For Love of the Game Poster

For Love of the Game

1999 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

An aging pitcher whose future on the mound is uncertain, Billy Chapel suddenly finds himself within reach of baseball's ultimate accomplishment: a perfect game. But his mind is elsewhere as (between pitches) he reflects on his failing relationship.
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The Cider House Rules Poster

The Cider House Rules

1999 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

A surrogate son and protégé to a kindly physician who runs an orphanage in rural Maine, itchy Homer Wells sets off wide-eyed to see the world -- but cold reality soon intrudes on his youthful idealism and moral certitude.
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Into the Wild Poster

Into the Wild

2007 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

A young man gives up everything -- including his trust fund and ties to a seemingly stable family -- to lead a solitary life in the wild. Eschewing convention to trek across Alaska's harsh and unforgiving terrain, he resolves to live off the land.
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Trainspotting Poster


1996 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

Danny Boyle's explosive 1996 film tracks the misadventures of young men (played by a cast that includes Ewan MacGregor, Robert Carlyle and Jon Lee Miller) trying to find their way out of joblessness, aimless relationships and drug addiction. Some are successful, while others are hopelessly not. Based on Irvine Walsh's novel, Trainspotting melds grit with poetry, resulting in a film of harsh truths and stunning grace.
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The Shunning Poster

The Shunning

2011 | NR | 3.8 out of 5 Stars

About to embark on an arranged marriage with the bishop of her Amish community, 19-year-old Katie Lapp realizes she can't go through with it when she learns she's adopted -- that is, not truly Amish. Now, she must face the community's silent wrath.
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The Book and the Rose Poster

The Book and the Rose

2001 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

When handsome teacher John Barnes discovers an antique edition of Anna Karenina that's filled with scribbled notes of random thoughts and musings, he decides to begin a correspondence with the previous owner of the volume.
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A Gang Story Poster

A Gang Story

2011 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Edmond and Serge became friends in prison, and formed a gang of infamous bank robbers in the 1970s that disbanded in 1974 with an arrest. Retired at 60, Edmond now tends to his family and has found peace -- but then Serge comes back into the picture.
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The Baader Meinhof Complex Poster

The Baader Meinhof Complex

2008 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

A radical terrorist group known as the Red Army Faction uses extreme violence to combat what they perceive as a new fascist threat in 1970s Germany. The group's savagery belies its revolutionary postwar intentions in this fast-paced fact-based drama.
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What Dreams May Come Poster

What Dreams May Come

1998 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

When physician Chris Nielson dies in a car accident and goes to heaven, his distraught wife commits suicide and ends up in hell. Risking eternal damnation, Nielson leaves paradise and embarks on an epic journey to save his spouse from Hades.
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A Green Journey Poster

A Green Journey

1990 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

After recent clashes with a new bishop (Robert Prosky), weary Catholic schoolteacher Agatha McGee (Angela Lansbury) ends her years of selfless service, leaving behind Minnesota for a getaway on the Emerald Isle -- and possibly a chance at love. Realizing she's let life pass her by, Agatha sets out to find James O'Hannon (Denholm Elliott), a longtime pen pal who might just be the man of her dreams.
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Twin Sisters Poster

Twin Sisters

2002 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Twins Anna and Lotte are orphaned in 1920s Germany and sent to live with two very different relatives. The sisters struggle to reconcile the differences of their youth when they meet as adults during World War II and again in their old age.
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Queen to Play Poster

Queen to Play

2009 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Intrigued by a pair of vacationing lovers playing chess, hotel maid Hélène sets her sights on mastering the game. With some coaching from a doctor who employs her services, Hélène hones her chess skills and begins to notice big changes in her life.
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Coming Home Poster

Coming Home

1998 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Living a lonely existence at boarding school, 14-year-old Judith Dunbar (Emily Mortimer) finds emotional sanctuary at the estate of her best friend's family. For a time, Judith leads a charmed existence, until the gathering storm clouds of World War II bring change. Coastal England serves as the backdrop for this dramatic miniseries featuring Peter O'Toole that explores love, kinship and burgeoning womanhood.
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Coming Home Poster

Coming Home

1998 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

This miniseries stars Emily Mortimer as Judith Dunbar, a diffident teen shipped off to a boarding school on the English coast, where she finds love in a well-to-do surrogate family -- until World War II throws her life and the country into chaos.
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The Journey of August King Poster

The Journey of August King

1995 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Young widower August King encounters Annalees, a runaway slave, in the woods of North Carolina in 1815. Rather than let Annalees's cruel owner catch her, August decides to risk his own life to help her reach freedom in the North.
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The House of the Spirits Poster

The House of the Spirits

1993 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Esteban vows to marry Rosa, a rich man's daughter. But when Rosa dies before he can save enough money to do so, he instead marries her younger sister. Years later, when their daughter falls for a revolutionary, the family is thrown into turmoil.
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Bitter Harvest Poster

Bitter Harvest

1981 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

When cows on their dairy farm suddenly begin dropping like flies, Kate and Ned De Vries (Tarah Nutter and Ron Howard) discover that their land has been contaminated with chemicals. Before long, their family begins to suffer the effects as well. But every effort they make to seek government assistance is met with red tape and rejection. This powerful made-for-television drama was nominated for four Emmy Awards.
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Ordinary People Poster

Ordinary People

1980 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Everything is in its proper place in the Jarrett household -- except the past. Mary Tyler Moore scored an Oscar nod for her role as repressed mother Beth Jarrett, whose favorite son has died, leaving her with another (Timothy Hutton) she can barely tolerate. The film also netted four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Redford, in his directorial bow), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for young Hutton.
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Jackie Brown Poster

Jackie Brown

1997 | NR | 3.7 out of 5 Stars

Jackie Brown is an aging flight attendant who smuggles cash on the side. But when she's busted and pressured to help with an investigation, she plans to play the opposing forces against each other and walk away with the dough.
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