Article by Dawud Gurevitch
Whether you’re a filmophile, a filmophobe or somewhere in-between, movies can do much more than simply entertain us. Yes, the film industry exists primarily for this reason in exchange for our Netflix membership or our cinema ticket fee (before the pandemic) but did you realise that some movies can teach us surprising lessons about life and relationships?
In this article I touch upon seven popular films that each reveal a different take on love and life in all its glory, which doesn’t mean that everything you will see and hear in them will be “sunshine and rainbows” as my wife likes to call it, but will mean that overall you get a realistic view of some of the very things we live for: love, laughter, achievement, being productive, purpose, peace, and growing spiritually as well as physically and mentally. Enjoy the journey!
La La Land (2016): Love is worth some sacrifices
La La Land is a multiple award-winning musical romance starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and John Legend among others. Without giving too much away, it tells the story of Sebastian (Gosling) and Mia (Stone), two strangers whose careers take a downward turn before they meet each other and end up supporting one another to be better versions of themselves. Furthermore, just as in real life sometimes, with great opportunities come great challenges. However, as you may have already experienced yourself, if you and your partner believe in love enough, including consulting with each other passionately, disagreeing respectfully and agreeing creatively, then you can have not just your wedding cake and eat it, but can also lead long, fulfilling and happy lives and look back without regrets about things you never did or tried.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): After hardship comes ease
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic dramedy that tells the story of a former teacher, Patrick “Pat” Solitano, Jr. (Cooper), who moves back in with his parents after spending nine months in a psychiatric asylum due to his struggle with bipolar disorder. We see how he tries to reconcile with his ex-wife and also how things become more challenging after he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a mysterious woman with struggles of her own. However, if there’s one thing that my own struggles have taught me, things invariably get better in time.
The Proposal (2009): Love moves in mysterious (and sometimes hysterical) ways
Another romantic dramedy, The Proposal stars Sandra Bullock as the powerful book editor Margaret Tate who’s suddenly faced with deportation to her native Canada. However, ever the opportunist, she claims she’s engaged to Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), her hapless assistant, who agrees to go along with the absurd situation to comic effect. As preposterous as you think the plot is, I once knew someone in that very situation and know that so-called marriages of convenience are relatively commonplace; however, I also know that sometimes love can come from the last person you’d expect it to come from. So, whether or not you currently have a romantic partner, know that you are loved immeasurably and that you don’t always get what you want but you do get what you need.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Passion and belief will win the day
Danny Boyle directs this feel-good romantic drama that demonstrates in a very visceral way how if you have passion and you believe in yourself, then anything is possible. For example, who’d have thought that Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an eighteen-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, would land a spot on the Indian version of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in order to reconnect with Latika (Freida Pinto), his long-lost love, but he does. So, find your passion, believe in yourself and go for it!
Pride & Prejudice (2005): Love breaks barriers
Just one of many versions of Pride & Prejudice that are out there, this multiple award-willing film adaptation starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr Darcy, reminds us that it is possible for two people who are very different from one another in terms of lineage, status and wealth to meet and believe in the possibility of making it together.
Love Actually (2003): Love will find you at any time and whatever your age
An ensemble cast star in this Christmas-themed romantic comedy about nine separate stories that all have one thing in common: navigating the complexities of love. And, whilst there’s various lessons we can learn from the movie, I think the main one is that what’s for you won’t go by you.
Groundhog Day (1993): If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again
A hilarious rom-com in which the legend that is Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman named Phil who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again in increasingly agonising but also pleasantly surprising ways. You may find yourself reliving the experience of watching this classic comedy, one which is filled with a range of emotions as well as the lesson that if you find your present situation intolerable, try and if necessary, keep trying to effect the change you wish to see in your world.
So, there you have it – seven films that between them offer several pearls of wisdom for the open-minded and open-hearted. Remember that your relationships, like life in general, won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but remember, too, as Sabastian says to Mia in La La Land, “This is the dream. It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”
May this year and all your years to come be the happiest, most fulfilling and all-round best years of your life.
Article by Dawud Gurevitch, life coach and author of May the Source Be with You: A Filmic Guide to Change Your Life, out November 30th, available on Amazon.