Even if you hate unrealistic romantic comedies and ‘family movies,’ relationships intrigue us all because, for some reason, we keep choosing to go through them, and most people have some semblence of family even if they aquire them later.
Perhaps because the subject is so vital to our existence I not only class the following films as ones I love, but films that are amongst my favourites. Despite the surreal settings or situations in most of them, I feel they portray relationships of all kinds in a way that’s more honest than most.
Maybe surrealism allows the director to take a step back and look at things objectively. How do they differ from the ‘realistic’ films in the list? I don’t know, what do you think?
There are plenty of good ‘relationship’ films out there (such as Harold and Maude) but these are the ones I’ve chosen. Interestingly, most feature comedians and an eccentrically attired woman.
1. Annie Hall
Woody Allen has done many films that are not good, but the ones that are count as some of my favourites. Annie Hall is a truthful, funny look at all stages of a specific relationship which leaves us with the same bittersweet nostalgia from thinking on our own experiences:
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Another film where a particular relationship is broken down and studied by the director, this has so many moments where I think ‘Oh God, I do that’ that it’s quite painful at times. It’s genuine and heartfelt. Jim Carey is having ex girlfriend Kate Winslet erased from his memory, which allows him to wander through his thoughts as an outsider:
3. Stranger Than Fiction
This one’s about deconstructing storytelling itself rather than studying the relationship between Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I love her character and their interaction.
There’s something very old film, Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘ about it that warms the cockles, it’s sweet and inventive in a way that’s rarely seen these days in a mainstream film and I urge all who haven’t seen it to do so. Will Ferrell is a character in Emma Thompson’s book, and has to stop her from killing him:
4. Love Me If You Dare
The game of dare between childhood friends, a boy and a girl, increasingly escalate along with their feelings for each other. This is a lovely, dark little story which is, for lack of a better description, very French:
I can see why some people might find this film relentlessly bleak, but I think it’s also oddly refreshing. The nosy side of me gets to watch the intimate problems between these people as well as watching how they live, it reminds me quite a lot of a stage performance. The scenes where drunken nights quickly turn unpleasant are very truthful, and I love the films of John Cassavetes in general.
Featuring real sex this is an entertaining journey through the sexual/relationship troubles of a dominatrix, a gay couple and a woman who’s never had an orgasm. Somewhere the answer lies in a late night club:
7. Pieces of April
I was quite pleasantly surprised by this one, especially since it contains Tom Cruise’s wife Katie Holmes. It’s a very simple story of a girl whose terminally ill mother is coming to visit her in New York for Thanksgiving. Her oven breaks and she has to knock on all the other apartment doors in the building.
However the mum is…kind of a bitch (well, I suppose she is dying), and April is the family black sheep. Her relationship with boyfriend Bobby appears to be central to her newfound stability. It’s just very sweet but not sickly, and sometimes you need that. Please ignore the cheesy trailer music, it is very misplaced: