People’s connections to each other can be very deep and inexplicable. The relationships we form with others may not always make sense to those outside of them, but they give meaning to our lives and make them worth living. Naturally, movies about life are about relationships and our relationships to each other expressed in vivid detail. A talented filmmaker can make the audience understand and feel as if they are part of the relationships they see on screen, experiencing all the emotions associated with the connection. We can make friends, fall in love, reconnect with our family, and forgive those who have wronged us, all by going to the movies.
Many of the films also delve into some of the most bizarre relationships, which are full of complexities and flaws. These relationships are some of the most baffling and sometimes seem problematic in nature, but the movies give us a deep insight into how beautiful they are in reality. Here are ten movies that focus on those weird relationships.
Most relationships are best classified as avoiding loneliness, which isn’t a bad thing. This is the fine point of Alexander Lehmann Paddleton, expressed by two eccentric people who live a humble but happy life together as good friends. The film shows their close relationship with the daily rituals of solving puzzles, watching kung fu movies, and playing Paddleton. Their relationship is tested when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides he’d rather commit medically approved suicide than suffer, much to his friend’s dismay.
The movie is as funny as it is touching, showing a pure and perfect platonic relationship between these two men who understand each other in a way no one else knows. It shows how beauty can be found in all people and lifestyles, and that should always be celebrated. A movie that makes you feel validated and only appreciates the people who care about you in that special way.
A common trope is young lovers against the world, but few stories feature it quite as well as Terrance Malick in his huge debut, Badlands. A bizarre Bonnie and Clyde saga inspired by Charles Starkweather’s infamous killing spree, the film takes a very unromantic approach to the adventures of these young criminals.
The primary perspective of the film is Sissy Spacek’s character Holly Sargis, a young and impressionable girl who becomes involved with Kit Carruthers, played by Charlie Sheen. The relationship appears to be born out of boredom being mistaken for love, but it still feels innocent in the beginnings of the movie. This turns with Sheen’s Kit killing Holly’s father to keep them apart, changing the relationship into a strange forced necessity as they travel together as runaways, with Kit being killed along the way. By witnessing the struggle to carry on in a long-faded love story, he takes Malick’s trademark style to another level that makes this unique film worthy of its immense praise.
Frances Ha (2012)
When we think of true love, we think of a deep romantic bond between lovers that means to each other a cosmic force that holds them together. We forget that true love can also be platonic, which is what Noah Baumbach showed us Francis Ha. It’s a very simple story about a girl named Frances who struggles with the crisis of a quarter of her life after her best friend moves out and starts to move on with life without her.
The movie gives a pared-down look at that edgy experience of being in your late twenties with no real direction, but it’s grounded in the relationship of the two friends. They have a special bond that lasts even when they drift apart. There is a particularly sweet moment when Frances talks to a stranger at a party about her desire to find her person, not as something romantic, but as a special connection between two people. Francis’s wish is repaid at the film’s conclusion in a private moment that shows true love without romance, just a sincere concern for another person.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
Everyone knows that couple who don’t seem quite right as it seems unhealthy to stay together, yet never break up. One such complex relationship is found in John Cassavetes’ beloved film woman under influence, an unsettling portrait of a troubled couple who love each other deeply, but struggle to understand their partner’s actions. The two lovers are beautifully played by Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk whose performances deliver an unsettling amount of realism, creating a chaotic sizzle that keeps viewers on edge.
Every moment can turn into an ugly fight between husband and wife that can end just as quickly. You can still feel the love these people have for each other and the frustration they feel at not being able to properly express it makes their interactions so blistering. A surprisingly grueling watch with unparalleled realism that even the greatest of actors rarely achieve.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Relationships beyond human bonds can take shape in ways that seem strange from afar. One of the boldest movie concepts that works surprisingly well is Craig Gillespie’s Lars and the real girl, a movie with Ryan Gosling playing a very shy guy who has a loving relationship with a sex doll. The movie is an innocent story, with Lars’ interactions with the doll being an illusion so sweet it brings everyone he knows to heart.
He sees her as a real person he met naturally on the internet, showing her respect and kindness that makes the audience start to see her in the same light. It all makes for a feel-good movie that will shock viewers by making them care deeply about this shy guy and his sex doll.
La Notte (1961)
Just as meaningful connections can form naturally, they can break down just as easily. This tragic situation is presented in the form of a once loving couple who are now distant in Michelangelo Antonioni. no nott. The film charts every detail of this lost love 24 hours a day, with the two characters displaying every futile work they do to reconnect. We also see the ways in which they try and separate through attempts at infidelity, yet those also fail because of their attachment to each other.
They are trapped in a cycle of misery with forced attempts at love in a marriage that is already dead. Antonioni masterfully crafts the entire movie as viewers also feel the urge to rekindle this marriage, making every little connection a euphoric triumph, but we all know it won’t work. A gorgeous artwork that conveys the unanswerable mystery of a love that has died.
Once upon a time… in Hollywood (2019)
There have been no truer friends in all of cinema than Quentin Tarantino’s Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth Once upon a time… in Hollywood. The bond between the insecure actor and his sexy double is the most endearing bond the writer/director has ever made. When Rick lost faith in himself, Cliff was there to remind him how great he really was, with Rick returning the favor by always fighting for Cliff’s place in a group despite the rumors surrounding him.
They always try to help and support each other because they are friends, and their bond comes through in their actions on behalf of the other. This comes to a head in the film’s thrilling finale, and Cliff saves Rick and his family from a terrible fate, proving their love for one another. It’s a friendship that makes an already great movie even better, giving audiences love and encouragement.
Jules and Jim (1962)
When people get closer as friends, other feelings can grow as well which complicates relationships. The most famous depiction of a complicated friendship is the cult classic French Wave Jules and JimDirected by François Truffaut. It tells the story of close friends Jules and Jim when they become embroiled in a love triangle with their mutual friend Katherine. It’s a very strange friendship between the three, but it’s clear early in the movie that the three of them are having a great deal of fun together, bringing out each other’s impulses and playfulness. This changes once Jules wins Katherine’s marriage and Jim separates them from the Great War.
When he reconnects, it becomes complicated when he discovers Katherine reciprocates towards her, and he is now trapped in a situation of choosing between his love and his best friend. He makes a very unique movie that is sad at times and amusing at times, with daring filmmaking techniques that make it a timeless masterpiece.
Honey Boy (2019)
The most complex relationship we all go through is the parent-child relationship. One moving image of this relationship is that of Alma Harel Honey boy, the fictional novel about Shia LaBeouf’s upbringing with his father. Though LaBeouf acknowledges the trappings of the story, it still makes for great cinema by showing an uncompromising view of an abusive father-son relationship that still brilliantly shows the love that’s still out there.
It can be difficult to watch the struggle and fight in situations that no child should be experiencing at such a young age, but there are still deeply poignant moments that show how the two care about each other and fail to express it in a healthy way. It delivers a challenging viewing experience that fills viewers with many complex emotions, but ultimately, parent-child love.
Ghost Theme (2017)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s work shows him adept at creating strange relationships that challenge viewers’ perception of what love really means. One of his most masterful depictions of complicated love is the impossibly elegant Stealth topic. The film tells the story of Reynolds Woodcock, a famous seamstress who is fiercely private and impossible to please, causing him to constantly divert from his ideas-turned-lovers once he gets tired of them. He finds new inspiration while traveling to the country at Alma, a humble waitress who is the perfect model for his dresses.
It all starts out delicate and very romantic as the two show great love for each other, but this shifts as Reynolds’ typical attitude begins to rear its ugly head again, threatening the relationship. Alma proves she won’t give them up so easily in a shocking reveal that is both quirky and beautiful. An excellent film from one of the modern masters that never ceases to amaze viewers.