5. Leonard’s Wife – Memento (2000)
The events of Memento are set into motion after the violent murder of Leonard’s (Guy Pearce) wife. Her death leads him on a relentless vendetta to catch her killer, a quest that is forever stunted by his short-term memory loss.
4. Julia – The Prestige (2006)
Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are warring magicians and bitter rivals. It’s revealed in flashback that their animosity stemmed from Julia (Piper Perabo), their former assistant and mutual love interest who was accidentally drowned during a failed magic trick.
3. Kay Connel – Insomnia (2002)
More of a reluctant love interest this one, as high-school student Kay is the subject of Walter Finch’s (Robin Williams) unreturned affections. Finch does not take the rejection well, leading to an investigation by detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino).
2. Rachel Dawes – The Dark Knight (2008)
Poor Bruce Wayne: His parents were murdered, The Joker is terrorising the city the love of his life is in the arms of the perpetually smug Harvey Dent. Nolan then takes Bruce’s misery to an unprecedented level by turning Rachel into ‘collateral damage’ as part of Joker’s evil plan.
1. Mal Cobb – Inception (2010)
If Christopher Nolan rained down tragedy upon Bruce Wayne, surely he raised the depression for Inception’s Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio). Not only did he inadvertently cause the death of his beloved wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), but he is constantly reminded by that fact when she appears in dreams to kill him and his friends, like a glamorous Freddie Krueger.
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