Like the old song goes, we always hurt the ones we love. I mean, WE don’t, but people in movies do. Some of the most searing, emotionally brutal films are the ones that explore the painful familiarity of a long-term romantic relationship, like this week’s new release Between Us, which follows in a rich tradition of deep, dark, painfully honest relationship dramas. These movies can sting — the truth hurts — but they can also point out pitfalls to avoid in our own lives, and help us to reflect on our own reasons for holding onto uncomfortable emotions. What the heck, it’s cheaper than therapy…
Two couples’ all-night conversations, set several years apart, reveal the ways they’ve grown apart, the changes within their relationships, and why not everything should be up for discussion, even with your closest friends. Starring Julia Stiles, Taye Diggs, Melissa George, and David Harbour.
Elizabeth Taylor, the most glamorous star in the world in 1968, confounded everyone when she aged herself up to play a boozy, bossy, braying wife of a professor, played by her real-life husband Richard Burton, as they host a younger couple for a drunken evening of emotional warfare. Taylor won an Oscar for the role.
Marlon Brando rose to film stardom (but, alone among the cast, did not win an Academy Award) as crude, working-class boor Stanley Kowalski, whose tumultuous relationship with his wife Stella is complicated by the arrival of Stella’s sister Blanche, a fading beauty with a fishy story about how the family plantation was lost. The acting is terrific and the writing is brutal, and if you only remember this one from reading it in high school, is well worth another look.
In another Tennessee Williams adaptation, an alcoholic ex-jock and his sensuous young wife (1958 Paul Newman and 1958 Elizabeth Taylor) return to his family’s plantation to attend to his sick father, but things start to turn ugly when the relations start asking why they haven’t had any kids.
Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet reunited eleven years after the smash success of Titanic to dissect a bleak postwar marriage crumbling under the couple’s unrealized ambitions, boredoms, and efforts to conform to the mores of the time. Both Dicaprio and Winslet give sensational performances, if a little too real for comfort.