Need movie suggestions!
August 21, 2012 3:27 PM   Subscribe

What would be a good movie choice?

I'm looking for a movie that would be appropriate for adult survivors of abuse/violence (read: no scenes with human behavior that could shock or horrify someone). I'd like to find something that shows a female protaganist learning or demonstrating good self care, empowerment, healthy choices etc. Ideas please!
posted by rglass to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The first movie that popped into my head was Amelie. It's definitely a feel-good movie, and it stars a female protagonist who overcomes extreme shyness/difficulty relating to other people. It is in French with English subtitles, though, so that may make it less of a crowdpleaser.
posted by shortyJBot at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd suggest Happy Go Lucky by director Mike Leigh - it has a main character who has an attitude that if you get knocked down you just get right back up - you can't help but like her!
posted by dydecker at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Bagdad Cafe, maybe? So good.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:02 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by nkknkk at 4:26 PM on August 21, 2012

I'd caution against "Happy Go Lucky." It contains a scene that shocked and horrified me, let alone survivors of abuse.

The Help has its problems but the protagonist does fit your description. (One character is a victim of domestic violence but I believe it's not shown on screen. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Bend it Like Beckham, Juno and Persepolis may also be safe.
posted by (alice) at 4:41 PM on August 21, 2012

Which scene are you refering to (alice)?
posted by dydecker at 4:43 PM on August 21, 2012

Is this for a fun movie night / escapism? Or is it more educational / here's a lighter look?

I'd say Legally Blonde for the former, maybe Educating Rita for the latter
posted by Mchelly at 4:49 PM on August 21, 2012

Which scene are you refering to (alice)?

This one.

posted by (alice) at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2012

I was going to recommend a Sally Hawkins movie, but not Happy Go Lucky--I loved it, but I agree that the scene (alice) linked to is shocking and stressful.

Instead, what about Made in Dagenham? It's about female factory workers in 1960s England who strike for equal pay for women. Uplifting, entertaining but not too frivolous, no shocking or horrifying scenes. Plus it's based on true events, which is pretty cool (Sally Hawkins' character wasn't a real person but she is an amalgam of several women involved).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:05 PM on August 21, 2012

I was thinking of Juno too though I'm gonna mull this one over and get back to you...

I mostly came here to say AVOID Happy Go Lucky which is an *incredible movie* but is not something to show someone overcoming abuse, it's a rewarding movie but goes to some pretty dark places.

It's definitely worth showing someone who's maybe already overcome related issues , very affecting bit of cinema.

I was just thinking of movies about surviving traumatic events and Paris, Texas sprung to mind. It deals with the aftermath of an extremely tragic instance in the main character's life (he is the abuser and the events are never shown on screen) and involves the man overcoming the past and ultimately making a better future. It's sweet without being unrealistic and challenging without being unpleasant. It's often funny too which I'm sure might help.

I get tears in my eyes just thinking about some of the film's final scenes!
posted by dr handsome at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2012

Agreeing that Happy Go Lucky isn't appropriate. The scene in question is a starkly realistic portrait of a domestic abuser.

Whatever you do, watch the movie first. Here's a great list of feel good movies.

Amelie definitely meets your criteria.
posted by cnc at 5:36 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came across this website - it may have some suggestions for you.
posted by foxhat10 at 5:58 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came in to also suggest Persepolis.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:13 PM on August 21, 2012

Real Women Have Curves is a pretty great movie. (If you can get past the implication that non-curvy women aren't real women but in the context of the movie it makes a bit more sense.) The most recent film version of Jane Eyre (the one with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska) is really good. Wasikowska's Jane is excellent. (There are some scenes of people being pretty mean to Jane as a child so you might want to review it first. Oh, um, there is the madwoman in the attic. So, that might be problematic, I'm not sure.)

Amelie is a WONDERFUL movie. Everyone should watch it. All the time. (There's a couple of non-graphic, short sex scenes, though.)

Gas, Food, Lodging is one of my favorite indie films from the 90s. (A main character describes a gang rape but it is NOT shown. I can't think of any other scenes of violence but it's been awhile since I've seen it.) Also, it might be hard to find.

How about some anime? Maybe Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away or Kiki's Delivery Service?

Um, maybe The Avengers? Comic book violence, obvs, but Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow is awesome and has some kind of tragic past that's not spelled out, that's she's working to overcome. Also: Pepper Potts is the best ever.

This is really, really difficult! A depressingly high number of films are REALLY violent or graphic!
posted by Aquifer at 6:17 PM on August 21, 2012

Julie and Julia? Two stories for the price of one.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:42 PM on August 21, 2012

How about Mostly Martha (the German version, not the American remake)?
posted by PussKillian at 6:43 PM on August 21, 2012

I guess the question is this: are you looking to entertain without offending or are you hoping to make some emotional progress by showing them an enlightening movie?

There are plenty of movies (and Amelie is one of my favorite movies of all time by the way) that don't feature violence or aggression-- you might do well to check one of those parental content type sites. I normally consider those parental reviews absolutely crazy but in your case (trying to weed out a very specific type of mood or theme or scene for a very specific type of person) their insane attention to detail might help!
posted by dr handsome at 7:47 PM on August 21, 2012

Sita Sings the Blues popped into my head when someone mentioned Perseopolis. It's two parallel stories, one of an ancient Hindu legend and one of a modern day woman. It's got great animation and is a musical using all 1920s songs. The whole movie seems to be available on youtube or on the official site.
posted by cali59 at 8:23 PM on August 21, 2012

Shirley Valentine!
posted by cyndigo at 8:36 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Going out on a limb here- how about Alien?
While the movie is very violent, the perpetrator is a monster, and the human relationships in the movie are all very businesslike. I recommended it since it is maybe one of the really very few (if not only) action movies with a strong female lead and no male co-lead, so she is really fending for herself, and more than that, it's obvious in the movie that she can fend for herself and doesn't depend on a man to protect and define her. These are things that are always obvious about a male lead in the same situation but are really rare to see in Hollywood with a female lead.
posted by Mai2k3 at 9:16 PM on August 21, 2012

Bridesmaids maybe? And seconding Legally Blonde.

For an older, slightly off the wall choice... Muriel's Wedding has a character arc that takes her from lame-o to awesome self-empowered confident woman without involving violence or emotional abuse, apart from some light bullying from her family and some mean girls. It's a bit more of a quirky choice though so depends on what your usual taste is.
posted by pink_gorilla at 9:38 PM on August 21, 2012

Legally Blonde is a crowd-pleaser without anything objectionable.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 11:57 PM on August 21, 2012

I came in to recommend Shirley Valentine too, along with another Willy Russell play converted to a most wonderful movie, Educating Rita.
posted by humph at 3:22 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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