Falling in love is the easy part.
June 26, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for movies about relationships that aren't about falling in love.

The post today about Before Midnight reminded me that I've been meaning to ask this question.

I've seen a couple of movies recently that feature the complications of long-term relationships and I want more. In fact, headnsouth's comment in that thread ("...but the last thing I want to do when I go to the movies is be immersed in the low-key tension of a long-term relationship between two middle-aged, middle-class educated white people, one of whom has a difficult relationship with his teenage son from his first marriage.") made me laugh because that low-key tension is exactly what I'm looking for! Although I'm ambivalent to age, race, class, or the presence of children.

Hitchcock was one of the movies that made me think of this. I loved the obvious dedication that Hitchcock and Alma had towards one another, and the conflict with Hitchcock's equal dedication to his creative process and art (and Alma's dedication to the same).

I also recently saw A Separation and I liked how the wife left her husband to pursue what she wanted, but was still involved in the drama of the caretaker of her husband's father although she was trying to distance herself from her marriage (and wow, that imdb synopsis seems really inaccurate).

What other movies are about (or feature prominently) this kind of relationship tension? I'd prefer more emphasis on working within the context of the existing relationship and less on one or both parties having affairs.

(Before Midnight is now on my list; I just need to see the other movies in the trilogy first!)
posted by ruby.aftermath to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage.
posted by seemoreglass at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another Year by Mike Leigh. This movie is exactly as you described, a couple working through some stuff over the course of a year.
posted by readery at 1:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Blue Valentine (Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling) fits this bill. It does show the couple falling in love, but the bulk of the film is about how their relationship has changed (and is falling apart) four or five years later.
posted by artemisia at 1:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, while I haven't seen it, I believe Take This Waltz (also Michelle Williams, with Seth Rogan) is about a wife's dissatisfaction with married life, and her growing attraction to someone else, and the strain this places on the marriage.
posted by artemisia at 1:44 PM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Kids Are All Right.
posted by rtha at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

It's a comedy, but The Bird Cage actually comes to mind... specifically the dynamic between Robin Williams & Nathan Lanes' characters. There's an underlying insecurity and tension there which is played for laughs but also results in some touching scenes.
posted by usonian at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

This Is 40 is a good example.
posted by bleep at 1:49 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps "Driving Miss Daisy".
posted by Melismata at 1:50 PM on June 26, 2013

On the older side of the spectrum, Away from Her is complicated and beautiful.
posted by Sequence at 1:54 PM on June 26, 2013

Seconding Take This Waltz.
posted by Kitteh at 2:10 PM on June 26, 2013

Lost in Translation.
posted by Carillon at 2:59 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you like Before Midnight Julie Delpy wrote and directed two movies about mid-relationship couples 2 Days In Paris and 2 Days In New York, which I liked a lot.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:07 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I liked The Five Year Engagement, a comedic take on this.
posted by emkelley at 3:10 PM on June 26, 2013

Haneke's Amour.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 3:40 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Husbands & Wives, perhaps?
posted by .kobayashi. at 3:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

My favorite epic on filial and fraternal relationships... The Best of Youth. It's a 3-parter, and it's gorgeous.
posted by missmobtown at 3:45 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sure if you'd be interested in books, but Wallace Stegner (Angle of Repose, Crossing to Safety) falls squarely in this territory.
posted by pompelmo at 3:54 PM on June 26, 2013

Like Crazy is about the increasing difficulty of making a relationship work partially over long distances and in the face of external stress from visa issues.

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
is a kind of reverse-unravelling of a relationship and sort of fits your criteria.
posted by *becca* at 4:02 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

51 Birch Street
posted by underdetermined at 6:11 PM on June 26, 2013

Away We Go
posted by missriss89 at 6:26 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

walking and talking. bonus: soundtrack is all Billy Bragg. light and airy, but about existing, mature relationships.
posted by jpe at 6:27 PM on June 26, 2013

The Story of Us, about a long-term marriage going sour and then trying to make it work again, makes me tear up every time.
posted by weeyin at 8:32 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Away From Her
posted by Miss T.Horn at 10:05 PM on June 26, 2013

Two classic-era favorites: Make Way for Tomorrow and There's Always Tomorrow (though the Wikipedia summary of the latter doesn't do it justice at all).
posted by bubukaba at 12:30 AM on June 27, 2013

Revolutionary Road, although I'd recommend the book instead of watching the film.
posted by getawaysticks at 7:33 AM on June 27, 2013

Lets get a little depressing:

Falling Down (1993) technically is about an estranged husband and wife.

Breaking the Waves (1996) is about a husband that is paralyzed and urges his wife to sleep with other men.
posted by wcfields at 11:12 AM on June 27, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, all of these look perfect!
posted by ruby.aftermath at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2013

Maybe it's TOO negative, but Cassavetes does this--A Woman Under The Influence and Faces come to mind.
posted by ifjuly at 7:05 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bruce Willis and Robin Wright play a couple trying to turn their marriage around in Unbreakable.
posted by usonian at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2013

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