2014 brought audiences three excellent, and disturbing, portraits of marriages tested and challenged. These three films are smart, mature works that are sure to make every couple examine their relationships, with blinders off.
Gone Girl needs little introduction, but for those unfamiliar with the phenomenal bestseller that the movie is based on, here we go. Nick (Ben Affleck) comes home on his fifth anniversary to find his house a mess and his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing – but clues presumably provided by Amy indicate she’s gone missing of her own free will. Gone Girl has all the elements of a pulpy psychological thriller, but is leaps and bounds above similar fare due to strong direction from David Fincher and complex characters that examine the question at the heart of the book and the film – how well do you really know your partner? If you’re like me, your partner won’t look at you the same way for several days.
The One I Love may be a bit more whimsical than Gone Girl, but the takeaway is anything but. Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are on the verge of separating, but embark on a last ditch effort to save their marriage by staying at a vacation house that their therapist (Ted Danson) insists has worked wonders for other couples. What they discover at the house, however, forces them to examine themselves – their current selves and their better selves – in ways they wouldn’t have imagined. To say any more would spoil the movie, but this is a funny and provocative film that makes viewers consider what it is that we really want from our partners.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable of the three – because it’s the most realistic – is Swedish import Force Majeure. An attractive, affluent Swedish family – husband and wife Tomas and Ebba, with two young children – are enjoying a week of skiing at a gorgeous French resort when an avalanche appears to threaten their very existence. How Tomas responds in the moment sets up the remainder of the film, which causes Ebba to question the foundation that their marriage is built on. Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film – and a front-runner for an Oscar nomination in the same category as well – Force Majeure is sure to be at the center of an awkward and queasy post-film conversation with your significant other.
~posted by Frank