EEveryone remembers the great love stories of cinema. Out of When Harry met Sally to CasablancaHollywood has always loved stories about two people finding their soulmate under the most unlikely of circumstances.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
Some films choose to delve into the darker side of romance – of love affairs that quickly go awry and spiral into destruction.
Often this is intentional. Films like Nicolas Roeg’s Bad timing or Derek Cianfrances Blue Valentine Guide viewers through the turbulent waters of a toxic relationship. All you can do is watch through your fingers in horror as something that was once sacred goes painfully wrong.
Sometimes, however, the toxicity is entirely random — a horrific mismatch of people framed as a heartwarming love story (something particularly common in older films, such as Fat or The Breakfast Clubin which troubling relationships come under closer scrutiny decades after release).
So here is The Independent‘s ranking of the 20 most toxic relationships ever seen on film…
20. Love actually
It’s almost difficult to pick the most toxic relationship from the hodgepodge of linked romances love actually. For my money, it’s probably the queasy relationship between Hugh Grant’s prime minister and youngster Martine McCutcheon. But otherwise there is a large selection here.
19. Deadly attraction
The erotic thriller provided a fertile ground for exploring toxic relationships on screen and Fateful attraction is certainly no exception. While Glenn Close’s Alex Forrest – who becomes obsessed with Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) after a brief sexual play – may veer into some pretty problematic clichés (ahem, rabbit cauldron), the film still remains a gripping portrayal of a genuinely unsettling relationship.
18. Happily together
Wong Kar Wai, perhaps the leading cinema retailer of unfulfilled romantic desires, chronicled a chaotic love affair between two Hong Kongers (Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung) in Argentina in this modern queer classic. Happy together is alternately funny and tragic, an idiosyncratic take on a strange and destructive relationship.
I don’t think I would stick my head too far over the parapet of age gap discourse to suggest that there is anything in doubt about a 100-year-old vampire dating a teenage schoolgirl. That dusk Movies are defiantly sentimental about Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) romance, but there’s no doubting the fact that theirs is deeply toxic.
16. Cold War
Another movie that could easily have been titled Toxic Relationship: The Movie, 2018 Polish drama Cold War follows the torrid romance between a talented young singer (Joanna Kulig) and a music director (Tomasz Kot). There are moments of beauty and poignancy, but mostly just the sinking feeling of seeing two people going berserk in mutually unhappy passion.
15. Basic instinct
It doesn’t take a detective to see something wrong in the twisted romance between Michael Douglas’ gray-haired detective Nick Curran and Sharon Stone’s seductive writer Catherine Tramell – who happens to be the prime suspect in Nick’s latest murder case. Sex and violence intertwine in Paul Verhoevan’s seminal erotic thriller.
14. Bind Me! Tie me up!
Pedro Almodóvar’s 1990 romance is the story of a courtship so glaringly problematic it makes you laugh. Antonio Banderas plays Ricky, a recently released psychiatric patient who kidnaps and imprisons Marina, a porn star (Victoria Abril). Eventually – and inevitably – she falls in love with her dysfunctional captor. A sick, provocative pleasure to watch.
13. She is everything
The 1999 teenage romcom She is everything was a quick hit when it first came out, but the years haven’t boded well for its pivotal relationship. Freddie Prinze Jr. plays high school jock Zack Siler, while Rachael Leigh Cook is Laney Boggs, the bumbling loner who, against all odds, wins his affections – but only after physically reinventing herself with a drastic makeover.
12. How to lose a man in 10 days
One of the many, many troubled romcoms from the romcom genre boom of the ’90s and ’90s, How to lose a man in 10 days follows a rather shameful relationship between Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. With both parties consistently manipulating and deceiving the other, the film also encourages a number of lazy gender stereotypes about dating.
11. Marriage Story
There are moments of genuine, heartbreaking villainy between feuding spouses Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s Oscar-winning 2019 drama. Though the scene has been forgotten, there’s no denying the awkwardness of watching Adam Driver spit the words “every day I wake up and I hope you’re dead” at his child’s mother.
10. The Breakfast Club
Much of John Hughes’ oeuvre could probably be on this list; out Strange Science to Sixteen candles, his teen comedies are peppered with inappropriate, toxic, or downright reprehensible romance. But for many it is The Breakfast Club that sucks the most, especially the togetherness of the boorish, sexually harassing John Bender (Judd Nelson) and Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald). Ringwald later admitted this and re-evaluated the film’s disturbing romance in an essay for the New Yorker.
9. Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance’s 2010 drama chronicled the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship between a nurse (Michelle Williams) and an unpredictable worker (Ryan Gosling). intimate and heartbreaking, Blue Valentine presents its destructive central relationship with an almost unprecedented frankness; the breakdown hurts all the more because the courtship is so endearingly intimate.
8. You have mail
Whether or not you agree with the idea that opposites attract, Nora Ephron’s 1998 rom-com is about more than just opposite sensibilities You have mail. Tom Hanks’ character, Joe Fox, is a pure corporate asshole; Megan Ryan plays his ignorant pen pal, a quietly melancholic bookstore idealist. Based on the 1930s classic The shop around the cornerEphron makes things meaner and more jaded, and the central relationship here is riddled with red flags.
7. Beauty and the Beast
You’d think classic children’s movies would be careful not to instill dangerous ideas about romance in young viewers, but all too often that’s not the case. Beauty and the Beast is one of the worst offenders that depicts a deeply troubled romance between young Belle and her captor, the Beast. It’s Stockholm Syndrome framed as true love: a story that only gets worse the more you unwrap it.
Chris Pratt is an unethical hero in this 2016 sci-fi romance. After being prematurely awakened from hypersleep aboard a decades-long spaceflight, he decides to wake Jennifer Lawrence to keep him company – dooming her to a life of isolated codependency aboard an empty spaceship. It’s ultimately framed as a touching romance, but make no mistake: this is rotten to the core.
There is much that has aged badly Fat, from rape jokes to throwaways to bizarre casting for the elderly. But the central romance – between Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) with dewy eyes and Danny (John Travolta) in a leather jacket – is probably the worst of all. The movie ends on some pretty horrific news, as Sandy reinvents her whole personality just to please her boyfriend.
4. Bad timing
It might seem like an understatement to describe the romance of Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell in Nic Roeg’s 1980 drama as a “toxic relationship” – the film ends with one of the most horrific scenes of sexual violence ever shown on screen. But for most of its lifetime, Bad timing is a fascinating portrait of a doomed, tumultuous love affair.
3. Bygone Girl
While David Fincher’s 2014 thriller leaves much of its running time in the dark, one thing becomes clear pretty early on — the relationship between Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) wasn’t remotely healthy. Though few could have predicted the extreme and murderous depths to which Amy eventually descended, the Dunnes’ marriage is, from start to finish, a spectacle of the toxicity of a suburban car crash.
2. Gas light
Sure, there are plenty of great (and not-so-great) movies about toxic romance. But how many inspired their own now ubiquitous — and dictionary-certified — piece of socio-romantic jargon? Charles Boyer plays a husband who manipulates his wife (Ingrid Bergman) into thinking she is going insane. If only they had a word for it back then…
1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The toxic relationship movie that ends all toxic relationship movies, Mike Nichols’ 1966 adaptation of Edward Albee’s bitter play is a masterpiece of marital dysfunction. Elizabeth Taylor and James Burton – then truly married – play a married couple whose marriage has descended into a state of toxic passive aggression. Meanwhile, George Segal and Sandy Dennis play a young couple trapped at the dinner party from Hell.
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/toxic-relationships-romantic-comedy-films-ranked-b2172896.html The 20 Most Toxic Movie Relationships, Ranked: From Twilight to Love Actually