Yes, marriage has been on our minds lately. You can't avoid talking about it when celebrity news has been dominated lately by stories of failed relationships (the latest casualties as of this writing: the marriages of Donita Rose and Sunshine Dizon). But then there is also Joey and Angelina Mead King whose marriage, unconventional as it is, embodies the essence when we talk about lifetime commitment.
Making the vow of "till death do us part," that promise of forever and ever, is hard work. It can be messy and complicated, but it can also be achingly pure and beautiful. These movies capture those realities with moving stories that asks us what marriage is for you, how much would you sacrifice to save it, or what it would take for you to leave.
1. The Story of Us
A 90s' classic, this movie chronicles 15 married years of Ben (Bruce Willis) and Katie (Michelle Pfeiffer). For their two kids, they put up a front of a happy union, but they can barely stand each other anymore. With the kids off to summer camp, Ben and Katie undergo a trial separation to figure out if they want in or out of their marriage. We won't spoil the ending for you, but this movie certainly defined what it means to be in a committed relationship.
2. Before Midnight
Here's a movie that shows you how easy it can be for a couple to lose that intense connection that binded them in the first place. We suggest you watch the movie's two prequels--Before Sunrise and Before Sunset--to have an idea how the relationship of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) developed. In this movie, they are already married and have twin daughters. It is set at a time when Jesse is struggling to connect with his teenage son from his previous relationship, while Celine is faced with a big career decision.
Another '90s classic, this movie tells the story of an alcoholic Alice Green (Meg Ryan) and her husband Michael (Andy Garcia). Their marriage and their relationship with their children are struggling because of Alice's drinking problem. As Alice gets the help she needs, she finds herself changing, and Michael, who doesn't believe in therapy, is having trouble adjusting to the new her. It begs the question: how do you heal, accept and love a person you don't know anymore?
4. Blue Valentine
Fair warning, this film is depressing, so either you'll get a good cry or have a chocolate binge afterwards. The connection between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) is immediate and passionate. It's a relationship that feels like it will be romance forever. Five years later, the artist and a pre-med student are living in the suburbs with their daughter, and all you can feel this time is bitterness and--crying face here--disdain.
5. It's Complicated
Jane (Meryl Streep), who owns a successful bakery, and Jake (Alec Baldwin), a lawyer, have been divorced for 10 years and their three grown-up kids have adjusted well to their family setup. Jake is now married to a younger woman, while Jane is starting to like an architect who's working on remodeling her home. Funny thing is, Jane and Jake have an affair and their kids find out, and they are not exactly thrilled. Talk about messy.
Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet) wanted a "life," and it meant the opposite of what their friends had--a suburban lifestyle with kids. They wanted to be free and unencumbered. But, as years passed, they realized they were falling in the same pattern as their friends. To reboot the relationship and bring it back to what it was like in the beginning, they planned to move away to Paris, but then reality again gets in the way. These two personifed misery so much (of their own making!) that we wanted a tub of ice cream afterwards.
7. Hope Springs
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They say people don't change. Perhaps but this movie certainly shows the rewards when you at least try. Empty nesters Kay and Arnold Soames (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) have been sleeping in separate rooms for years since their youngest child went off to college. Kay thinks their marriage is in trouble, while Arnold thinks they're perfectly fine. But Kay had already secretly enrolled them in an expensive week-long intense marriage counseling.