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what are movies about independent women in a relationship?
November 14, 2012 4:35 AM   Subscribe

help me find movies depicting women in a healthy relationship, where her space, interest or financial independence are respected.

A friend is a social worker, working with women coming from abusive marriages, and is looking for examples of what a normal, healthy relationship looks like. This is not necessarily about strong women, but about respect as part of being in a relationship.

I think good examples could be Frances McDormand's role in Fargo, Rebecca Pidgeon's in State and Main, Meryl Streep's in Julie Julia.
posted by valdesm to Human Relations (27 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's not a movie, but the Taylor marriage in the TV show Friday Night Lights is a wonderful, realistic depiction of a loving but not codependent marriage.
posted by something something at 5:06 AM on November 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The protagonist blossoms into an independent woman, and has a sweet, respectful relationship with a nice man.
posted by Specklet at 5:38 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Away We Go (Maya Rudolph)
posted by John Cohen at 5:44 AM on November 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Would sitcoms work? something like Roseanne or The Cosby Show? Roseanne shows a healthy marriage but under stress at times.

One problem is that healthy marriages provide less drama, so they are less likely to be the focus of film or television, but sit in the background. Geoffrey Rush's character in The King and I seems to have a good marriage (so does the King, for that matter), but it's in the background of the movie.
posted by jb at 5:52 AM on November 14, 2012


It's not a movie, but I've been loving "Bewitched" for its portrayal of a smart, independent woman capable of supporting herself (really, the witchcraft is just a cover to sneak in feminism in the 1960s) being respected, questioned, and yet always supported by her husband. It's not perfect, in that its obvious gender roles are obvious: Samantha stays at home "like a normal human woman" and Darrin/Derwood/Dumdum (love Endora's nicknames for him) works "like any red-blooded American man", but they do manage to subvert those roles a lot, all the while emphasizing respect and love.

I suppose it can't be called "normal", but for me (also with abusive relationships in my past), it has been an unexpectedly huge insight into what it means to be a woman, speak my mind, and actually be listened to, respected, and loved. I can't recall any other TV or movie depictions of marriage ever striking me on such a deep level as this little comedic sitcom. (Really. It's almost embarrassing. But true! Your friend could just start out with a few episodes from the first season to see if it clicks; it generally keeps the same tone throughout the years, though it does get "groovier" and you see some fun references to the cultural changes in the early 70s.)
posted by fraula at 5:59 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Harry Met Sally? Not Harry and Sally, so much, but their friends, and all the little interview segments from the older couples.
posted by mskyle at 6:09 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another TV show: Mad About You.
posted by Dolley at 6:22 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also not a movie:

Star Trek DS9 has Kasidy Yates, independant woman with own career and priorities, in a healthy relationship with Benjamin Sisko. Bonus: making it through rough times together.

The 4400: Tom Baldwin and his girlfriend/alternate reality-wife Alandra. It's actually two versions of their relationship (the imagined world and reality) and both are happy and healthy.
posted by MinusCelsius at 6:26 AM on November 14, 2012


I would actually suggest Dirty Dancing. Baby's relationship with her father is complicated, but she is the one that pursues Johnny, for the most part, and the movie shows their relationship as something she actively wants, not something she's helplessly drawn into, as is often the case with young-lady-romance tropes.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:29 AM on November 14, 2012


The Goodbye Girl - learning how to trust a good guy (and realizing they exist) is practically the point of the movie.
posted by Mchelly at 6:42 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Secretariat.
posted by drlith at 7:06 AM on November 14, 2012


The tv show Medium had a family with normal conflict and healthy resolutions. For a love story, Love Actually has a diversity of relationships.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on November 14, 2012


From Star Trek: TNG and DS9: Keiko and Miles OBrien.

I'm also gonna suggest The Secret Lives of Dentists. While it's about a marriage under fire, part of the poignancy of the story is that it's middle class stressors and ennui that are driving the couple apart, not that either one of them is necessarily a controlling partner. A lot of right-wingers actually really dislike the film because the male lead isn't conventionally manly and this story about infidelity isn't resolved by him becoming a stereotypically manly man. That for me is its charm. Sometimes it's hard to be in a feminist marriage, and just because you're respecting each other's spheres doesn't mean that you're each getting what you want/need. So for me, the end of the film is really about love as a kind of forgiveness. You know they have SO MUCH stuff to work on, but that they probably will.
posted by spunweb at 8:43 AM on November 14, 2012


Again, not a movie, but I love Julia and Joel's dynamic on the NBC show Parenthood.
posted by cecic at 8:49 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Margot at the Wedding, perhaps? Margot is a woman with some kind of psychological issue (a personality disorder?), but her sister is getting married and has worked hard to create (if I'm remembering it well) a mostly good relationship. The juxtaposition might be useful?
posted by salvia at 9:29 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seconding Parenthood - all of the characters work really hard at their relationship dynamics. Same writer as Friday Night Lights, btw.
posted by judith at 9:39 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the parents/couple in Downton Abbey a ton. Great communication. They disagree constructively. And although they are British aristocracy, they argue about pretty relatable stuff: money, their kids, inlaws.
posted by murfed13 at 10:10 AM on November 14, 2012


I might be really wrong about this, but I feel like the marriage between Claire and Phil on Modern Family is a pretty good example of this... Jay and Gloria, not so much.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 12:22 PM on November 14, 2012


Thanks for so many good suggestions!
posted by valdesm at 12:23 PM on November 14, 2012


Chris Rock and Julie Delpy in 2 Days in New York?

I'm somehow thinking of The Truth About Cats and Dogs even though I don't remember it well except the (female) Cyrano character is a properly actualised person.
posted by glasseyes at 12:33 PM on November 14, 2012


Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore shows the protagonist, a mother and new widow exercising her independence, avoid a potentially abusive relationship and form a healthy relationship with some work on both partners' parts.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:58 PM on November 14, 2012


It's Complicated, The Holiday, Something's Got to Give feature heroines who are self sufficient and independent trying to decide whether a new relationship will take away their freedom or add to their lives.. and all three end happily.
posted by kettleoffish at 8:30 PM on November 14, 2012


Not a movie, but I like Leslie and Ben's relationship on Parks and Recreation for this reason. Plus the dude ends up making career sacrifices for the lady, which is refreshing.
posted by speicus at 2:47 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The title character in the movie Vera Drake has a very warm, mutually supportive relationship with her husband, although there are a few scenes early on in the film that may be triggering/upsetting to women who have survived abuse.
posted by arianell at 10:27 AM on November 16, 2012


TV show rec: I love Up All Night, even though it's a breezy comedy type show. Chris and Reagan's relationship seems real to me (and she was the breadwinner for the first season, while he stayed home), and I've been with my boyfriend for nearly 6 years.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:52 AM on November 17, 2012


Happy Go Lucky is a great movie about a well-adjusted, positive, confident woman and her various friendships and relationships.
posted by molleeewrites at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2013


Mystery, Alaska has a pretty good dynamic between Russell Crowe's and Mary McCormack's characters. It's within a sports context and has some pretty guy-ish moments but I really liked how the main couple sorted themselves out - a fair amount due to the prompting of McCormack's character.

Another site suggested Love, Actually which is one of my favorite romantic movies. There is one husband who considers adultery but there isn't any violent arguing. And Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are Mr Nice Guys of course (although it's a bit of a fairy tale since Grant is the Prime Minister.) Martine McCutcheon's and Emma Thompson's characters are easy to relate to. Not ultra-powerful, ultra-independent women - just women who could be living next door to you.

They also suggested Field of Dreams since the guy's wife is ultra supportive. But I could see how it could be interpreted as "his needs are more important". Hmmm. This is a harder topic than it looks on the surface.

Moonstruck includes adultery but Olympia Dukakis is fabulous. And Cher is usually good for a woman getting what she wants/needs.

Parenthood shows some v complicated relationships with only a little arguing. Certainly what I consider within the limits of normal relationships. Mary Steenburgen's character sticks up for what she wants/needs. Oh and also, Father of The Bride (1&2). All three of these seem so realistic to me. Normal, generally nice and regular people dealing with the stress and chaos (and fun) that comes with daily life and family the best ways they can.
posted by Beti at 9:26 AM on June 22, 2013


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