In the wake of the non-news of the week, the breakdown of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s marriage, their movie ‘By The Sea’ has attracted some serious attention. Released in 2015, ‘By The Sea’ is now subject to intense scrutiny, not for artistic merit or critique, but for media voyeurs looking for a window into Brangelina’s uncoupling, hunting for tell-tale signs of the end before it had begun.
The truth is though – ‘By The Sea’ is not deserving of the attention it is receiving. Generally dubbed a vanity project by critics during its release, the film received luke-warm reviews at best.
If you’re really looking for a thoughtful depiction of a crumbling relationship, with all its unpleasantries, intrigue and poignancy, these five films are more than worth the watch.
The story of a young married couple, and their ultimately doomed relationship, doesn’t always make for comfortable viewing. Charting the course of the relationship over time, Director Derek Cianfrance chose to shoot the film in Super 16mm before their marriage’s demise, and Red One for after, signalling the change in which the end of a relationship can change the way those undergoing a breakup view the world. The chemistry, and tension, between co-stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams derives from an existing friendship off-screen; their dialogue is unscripted in a number of scenes.
Kramer vs Kramer
Released in 1979, ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ stars Hollywood giants Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman as they go through a divorce. The film is remembered as being one of the first to reflect a cultural change in attitude to divorce – rather than opting to take sides, or paint Hoffman or Streep as either antagonist or protagonist, the film simply allows us to observe as the couple shift, learn and grow in the wake of their upheaval.
Where Jack and Rose’s relationship ended abruptly and devastatingly in Titanic, Frank and April Wheeler’s relationship painfully lingers and withers in the shadow of the American Dream. Director Sam Mendes coaxes a performance out of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet that won them a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively, and nominations for three more Golden Globes, three Oscars and four BAFTAs.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Straight from the golden age of film, Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman star in Richard Brook’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play of the same name. Despite Williams upset at the film’s downplaying of any themes of homosexuality, the movie is firmly considered a classic. An exhibition of cultural attitudes to sexual desire, greed, familial turmoil and relationships, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was relatively controversial in its day.
The Squid and The Whale
Indie greats Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson teamed up to produce this comedy-drama that revels in laughing where the only other option is to cry. We see the drama unfold through the eyes of the couple’s children, whilst their parents Bernand and Joan Berkman tackle infidelity, selfishness and the battle for custody. Sometimes growing up is harder to those who are already grown up themselves.
Any more break-up movies I’m missing from my list? Any thoughts on ‘By The Sea’? Let me know in the comments below. Roll the credits!