In addition to compelling characters and a strong storyline, movies and television shows need conflict amongst characters to further the plot. But, as we have discussed recently, conflict is often portrayed in a one-sided manner, involving violence or abuse. So, here at FVPC, with the help of interns, amazing hotline advocates and staff, we compiled a list of movies that we feel demonstrate healthy romantic and familial relationships.
No relationship is perfect. Intimate partners and family members will argue. But these disagreements become dangerous when the parties involved do not have equal say and worth in the relationship, when one person wields more power than the other, resulting in abuse of some kind. Healthy relationships require open communication, honesty, equality, respect and trust. Abusive relationships have few, if any, of these factors on a regular basis.
The movies below focus on relationships which highlight equality and dialogue between partners when faced with adversity and relationship difficulty:
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Toula Portokalos comes from a large Greek family and begins a relationship with an American high school English teacher, Ian Miller. Through open communication and respect for one another Toula and Ian bridge the gap between their different families and have a happy and meaningful relationship.
- Up: Carl and Ellie can depend on one another for their entire adolescent and adult lives. They support each other through difficult times in their relationship. Carl & Ellie share interests, they support each other even through hardships such as not being able to have a child and financial struggle. Carl becomes a strong grandfather figure to Russell. Carl also functions as a mentor for Russel as they go an adventure to Paradise Falls.
- Real Women Have Curves: In this film high school senior Ana Garcia tries to balance her familial expectations with her dreams of creating a future for herself at NYU. As she explores becoming more comfortable with her own body she begins to create a healthier relationship with her mother and father. Her boyfriend at the time is very supportive of her attempts to accept herself for who she is and of her going to New York to achieve her goals.
- Remember the Titans: The husband and wife have a caring relationship as they struggle through the difficulties of moving to a new town encumbered by segregation. The football team becomes a unifying symbol for the community as the boys & adults learn to depend on and trust each other.
- The Birdcage: In this film, gay partners Armand and Albert support each other and their son Val as they try to navigate through meeting his fiance Barbara’s conservative family, The Keeleys. While part of the plot centers on Armand and Albert trying to hide their identity from the Keeleys, eventually they and their son tell the Keeley’s the truth and, in doing so, show how supportive and loving that their relationship is. This film also focuses on the younger couples learning to embrace both their own and their families identity and create an honest, loving relationship with one another.
- Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner: In this film Joey ( a middle class white woman) meets John Prentice, an African American doctor, while on a trip in Hawaii. Joey takes John home to meet her parents who at first have trouble adjusting to an interracial marriage. However at the end of the movie Joey’s father realizes and tells Joey that other people’s criticisms and bigotry should not be a factor in their decision to marry. This film focuses on the healthy relationship between Joey and John, who have to overcome a variety of interpersonal and societal obstacles and healthy familial support.
- Love Actually: Love Actually focuses on both platonic, familial and romantic relationships. While conflict exists between certain partners, the partners attempt to work through it with dialogue and respect, rather than resorting to abuse or threats. This film emphasizes the importance of being honest with partners, family and friends and the benefits that come with open communication in relationships.
- Field of Dreams: While Ray’s dream seems far-fetched to both his family and the community, his wife Annie supports him and encourages him to follow through on his visions. This film also shows how a father and son reconnect through communication and love, even after years of distance and difficulty communicating.
What would you add? Email me your thoughts: vccoordinator(at)fvpcoc.org