Romance movies are usually far from being the go-to place for relationship advice. Many of the films about relationships, and rom-coms especially are filled with unrealistic couples and situations. This makes for all the fun, sure – no one would dare claiming that a feel-good piece should provide psychological counselling. However, there are more than a handful of directors and script writers who took the genre to another level.
Some of the movies that tackle with couple issues and their love life really go above and beyond the general recipes used for romantic movies. We picked a small batch that made us think about non-fictional, real life relationship issues that most couples had to deal with at one point or another. These films about love are more down to earth, and seem to have avoided the classic “Prince Charming seduces girl and they live happily ever after” story. Instead, we tried to look into the plots of a bit more insightful movies and draw a few pieces of relationship advice from the fictional love stories depicted there.
1. When it comes to being by your lover’s side, wing it till you make it (Submarine, 2010)
Submarine is a beautiful love story about two adolescents trying to figure out what relationships are all about, and are learning about adults’ relationship problems. Oliver (Craig Roberts) and Jordana (Yasmin Paige) are slowly losing their naivete as the boy suspects his mother is having an affair, followed by having to face his parents’ quarreling at home. At the same time, Oliver is at the same time attracted and scared of Jordana’s detached, albeit highly sensual behavior. She’s not at all a common type of teenager, and he stumbles big time into their first sexual experience. As she has family issues as well, with her mother being terminally ill, Oliver breaks up with Jordana for fear that she’d get too “gooey on the inside.” He later greatly regrets his move and they seem to pick up where they left off, but the movie’s end is unclear about the terms of their relationship.
The story is in itself extremely moving and the lingering aftertaste of Submarine is that there is worth in our loved ones despite their many shortcomings. Being by each other’s side should be part of the deal, and striving to be kind and considerate to our partners is proof of maturity and love. Stand by your loved ones when they’re under duress is, of course, the most basic relationship advice that Submarine’s story is really good at evoking. This advice alone may seem dated, and anyone can easily recognize it in the already movie-famous marriage ceremony scenes where the bride and the groom vow to be together for better and for worse. In spite of how much of a cliché it has become due to being overused, the advice is strong. Unlike in the rom-coms where the couples often go through unrealistic heroic situations, supporting one’s partner in real life takes a lot of patience and hard work, and Submarine shows just that.
2. Try to get used to the idea that there are things you can’t control (Blue Valentine, 2010)
If Submarine taught us the virtue of supporting our loved ones, Blue Valentine sends an opposite message, albeit an equally good relationship advice. The movie portrays the heartbreaking story of a couple who can no longer make it work. The movie shows us bits of their love story from the very beginning, when the two – Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) – seemed perfect for each other. So we are left watching their marriage falling into pieces, and tearing up at the utter injustice and misfortune of these two people once in love.
The arch of Dean’s and Cindy’s sad story is focused around change. We watch them change little by little, and change their priorities for the future, as they also grow apart more and more. The frustrating and shattering fact of this love scenario is that neither of them suffers a dramatic shift, nor do they change for the worse. The truth of the matter is that they just sort of grow up and apart, and there is nothing any of them could have done differently. So that, in and of itself, is a cold piece of advice we can offer: work towards understanding that people change, even those closest to us, and there is not much anyone could do about it. Learn that there is a point where all avenues of making a relationship work have been exhausted, so there is a time to accept and move on. Easier said than done, sure, but the very fact of knowing that some things like people’s personalities are beyond our control can be very liberating.
3. Talk everything out (Like Crazy, 2011)
Again, very much related to the previous advice of needing to accept change in relationships, we took another helpful relationship advice from a movie about long-distance relationships. Like Crazy is the story of two college graduates in love. Anna (Felicity Jones), a British exchange student in the U.S., and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) fall in love and start a serious relationship when Anna is forbidden access to the States due to overstaying her student visa. Problems begin to pour as the U.K. regulations are not at all friendly towards Jacob either.
Faced with an unexpected long-distance relationship, Anna and Jacob go through the conundrums that living apart as a couple entails. They have to deal with a lot of uncertainty, doubt each other, get jealous and cope with missing one another all the time. Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship knows more than enough about how difficult it is to solve the issues caused by living apart. But the brilliant example this movie sets is that being honest and keeping the communication open with your partner is the best possible policy. Especially when trying to make a long-distance relationship work, it’s important to focus on talking out your issues. This is harder than it sounds, as it takes a lot of thinking to be able to pinpoint some issues, and this search can get pretty messy. However, nothing pays out more than being open about your desires and expectations, as well as uncertainties and vulnerabilities. Like crazy shows that love can win, not like in the typical rom-coms, but with solid work, care and commitment.