Over the years people have often asked us to make a list of our favorite relationship movies. The task proved harder than it sounds, because there are so many wonderful movies to choose from. Finally, though, we've come up with our Top 10.
Our criteria combined artistic merit with the ability of the movie to shed light on the inner workings of relationships and how to maximize their potential. In addition, all the movies we selected share that elusive quality known as heart. We've watched hundreds of movies during the nearly 30 years we've been together. These are the ones that moved us deeply as works of art and inspired us to recommend them as teaching-tools at seminars and professional conferences.
Any Top 10 list is arguable, subjective and highly debatable. If you're a relationship-movie enthusiast, we look forward to hearing about what your favorites are. Please send your nominations to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them below in the comments.
Here are the first five movies on the list, followed by short write-ups about why each movie was chosen and what you might learn from it.
We'll present the other movies on the list in our next post.
2. The Holiday
3. The January Man
4. Truly, Madly, Deeply
5. Monsoon Wedding
This masterpiece has many things to recommend it, but if we were going to pick just one thing it would be the tour-de-force speech about victimhood and responsibility that Nicholas Cage gives in the basement of the bakery. Everyone interested in relationships should watch this scene (we've probably watched it 100+ times.) It's not only brilliant acting but also shows exactly how people can get trapped in a painful moment in the past that causes them to adopt a view of themselves as victims and reject love that's being offered to them in the present. Also, the ending scene around the dinner table is ensemble acting at its exquisite best.
What a treasure! Nancy Meyers wrote, directed and produced this warm-hearted miracle of a movie. It's got a lot of useful wisdom in it about how to get unstuck from past relationships so you can be present in the moment to give and receive love. Kate Winslet and Jude Law give luminous performances. Pay particularly close attention to Kate Winslet's tirade toward the end when she's finally closing the door on her boyfriend, the quintessential handsome cad she's been putting up with for 'way too long. If you've ever been lied to by someone who's says they love you, you'll laugh and wince and learn a lot at she gives him his come-uppance.
The January Man
This overlooked gem is a thriller that we recommend primarily because of one brilliant scene. It takes place toward the beginning, so if you don't like the thriller aspects of the movie you can skip the rest. Watch closely the scene between Kevin Kline and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the restaurant at the ice-skating rink. It has one of the best examples ever of how to speak honestly in relationships. If people could learn to talk to each other like this, there would be far fewer problems in relationships.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
This heartful drama, directed by Anthony Minghella, is one of the most beautiful movies we've ever seen. It not only has magical performances from Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman, it also teaches powerful healing-lessons about how to come to terms with loss and grief. One high moment of the movie comes when the characters quote a poem from Pablo Neruda. Just thinking of that moment brings tears to our eyes.
This comedy/drama, directed by Mira Nair, is a loving look at the complexities of an Indian culture in which arranged marriages often match partners whose hearts belong to others. But this wise movie speaks to a universal problem: when you withhold a truth from your partner, you pull back from the relationship and project your own fears and fantasies onto the other person. The film shows a beautiful example of how to resolve this problem through authentic emotional expression. When the truth is finally spoken, the betrothed partners find a depth in each other (and themselves) that had gone unseen before.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 on Friday, August 15th.
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