A look at Hollywood's best attempts to capture crumbling relationships
David Fincher's latest release 'Gone Girl' explores the marital issues that a seemingly happy couple can go through. We look back at other movies which dealt with similar themes
People from around the world differ from each other in terms of their personalities, likes, dislikes and so on. But if there is one thing that binds them, no matter where they hail from, it is that social institution called marriage. As a norm, weddings are celebrated throughout the world but the issues that come with living with someone under the same room for decades are always conveniently swept under the carpet.
However, several Hollywood movies have attempted to show marriages in all its starkness. One such film is David Fincher’s latest release Gone Girl (above) as it explores the marital issues that a seemingly happy couple can go through. hitlist looks back at other movies which dealt with similar themes.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Director: Sam Mendes
Lowdown: Marking Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s reunion as actors after Titanic, this film explored the marital issues of a couple stifled by the mundanity of suburban life. Besides having to deal with the breakdown of their marriage (filmed quite poignantly), they also have to deal with the loss of their unborn child.
Director: Adrian Lyne
Lowdown: The life of a seemingly perfect family begins to unravel as the wife falls for the overpowering charisma of an absolute stranger. His sexual prowess, quite literally, drags her away from good sense as well as her family. In such a helpless scenario, what her husband does to settle scores is what makes this story compelling as well as inhumane.
The Hours (2002)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Lowdown: In this woman-centric period drama, the female characters, (Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman, who plays famous author Virginia Woolf) deal with their less-than-perfect marriages. Death, to them, seems the only way out of their deeply unhappy lives. While one meets with a tragic end, the other escapes.
Far from Heaven (2002)
Director: Todd Haynes
Lowdown: Set in the 1950s, an American woman appears to be leading an idyllic existence oblivious of the societal turmoil that’s engulfing her country. This is long before she bravely begins to confront one marital crisis after another — one of them being her husband’s repressed homosexuality.
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Lowdown: A diplomat is in a strange fix as he’s not only mourning his wife’s departure but also suspecting that she might have been having an affair behind his back in Africa. In order to know, he lets himself sink into the big bad world of pharmaceutical excesses, thus acknowledging his wife’s innocence and his own asburdity.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Director: Ang Lee
Lowdown: This film is as much about extramarital affairs of the two lead characters as it is about addressing homosexuality sensitively. In their quest to experience true love, the lead actors, played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, betray their beloveds by pretending to be something that they are not.
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Lowdown: A Scottish doctor travels to Uganda and fatefully becomes Idi Amin’s physician. Soon, he’s the dictator’s advisor on matters that don’t even concern his field of expertise. However, his downfall is eminent. After all, he had the temerity of not only falling in love with one of Amin’s many wives but also bedding her.
The Painted Veil (2006)
Director: John Curran
Lowdown: Naomi Watts plays a bored Victorian wife who cheats on Edward Norton (her scientist husband), while on a honeymoon in Shanghai. But what’s more intriguing is the cuckolded husband’s refusal to confront her despite knowing what’s going on. His reason for doing so: he loves her way too much to judge her character.
A Royal Affair (2012)
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Lowdown: What begins as a mutual attraction between a queen and her physician changes the course of Scandinavian history. Starring Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander as the couple in love, the film also shows how even the strongest of love stories can’t stand the trial of politics and prejudice.
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Lowdown: A man and woman — who are married but not to each other — develop a beautiful bond after learning about their respective spouse’s extramarital affairs. The only thing that separates them from their so-called better halves is that they are insistent on not committing the same mistakes their spouses so comfortably did.
Last Night (2010)
Director: Massy Tadjedin
Lowdown: One of the finest films made on marital infidelity in the recent past, it features Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes among others. While the husband is trying hard to overcome temptation on a business trip, his wife back home is facing the returning prospects of the lost love from her past.
Side Effects (2013)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Lowdown: Much before Rosamund Pike’s psychotic character made an appearance in Gone Girl, Rooney Mara played what is, arguably, one of the most deceptive roles in a thriller. Her character would trick anyone — from her husband to her psychiatrist to a pharmaceutical giant — to accomplish what she set out to achieve.
Lust, Caution (2007)
Director: Ang Lee
Lowdown: As has been the case with Lee’s films so far, sex or marital discrepancies serve a much bigger purpose than what’s evident. This aptly-titled masterpiece is no different. Through the actions of the protagonists, Lee tells a tale filled with spies and covert government operations.
Director: Jim Sheridan
Lowdown: A soldier goes to a war and doesn’t come back. His family presumes he’s dead. Meanwhile, his younger brother takes care of his wife and children ensuring appropriate distance is maintained. However, the soldier returns home and doubts his wife’s infidelity and his brother’s sexcapades.
Several infidelity-related films from the last decade continue to inspire storylines
Indecent Proposal (1993)
An ageing wealthy man puts forth a bizarre offer to a financially weak couple wherein he’d pay cash in exchange for a night with the beautiful woman. And they reluctantly accept it.
To Die For (1995)
The protagonist (played by Nicole Kidman) would do anything to annoy her disinterested husband, even to the point of having a carnal relationship with a much younger boy (Joaquin Phoenix).
The English Patient (1996)
What this Anthony Minghella-directed film did is it showed that great love stories are possible even with flawed characters; with one of them even secretly cheating on her husband.
The Eel (1997)
In this Japanese feature film, the protagonist finds out about his wife’s extramarital endeavours while he’s away from home. Thanks to which he kills her and befriends an eel in the prison!
The End of the Affair (1999)
Contrary to what the title suggests, the affair — between characters played by Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore — doesn’t really come to an end. It simply establishes new grounds.
In the pipeline
The Ferryman (2015)
This much-awaited film by Wong Kar-Wai revolves around a lady who falls in love with a man whose wife is being unfaithful to him.