Best Films about Family Relationships

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1969 in suburban small town Canada. Ex-military man Jim Field, married with three high school aged daughters, wants to portray having the perfect, loving family to the outside world, which is anything but reality largely based on his behavior and thus relationships with the other family members. While trying to be what he considers the model father, he cheats on his wife and is a bit of a blowhard. A prime example of his behavior was several years earlier canceling a family vacation to Disneyland impromptu in favor of a two week nuclear attack simulation, taking the family to live during that time in the locked bomb shelter in their backyard. His wife Mary, a former dancer, suffers from chronic clinical depression, exacerbated by family events including her relationship with Jim. Regardless, Jim truly has a protective attitude toward her. She spends most of her time in a semi-comatose state in front of the television while the girls help her self-medicate with alcohol. Each of the girls tries to deal with their family dysfunction in different ways. Norma, the Plain Jane self-conscious one who truly wants a loving relationship with her parents the most of the three, tries to hold the family together in maintaining the house while secretly harboring family memories which no one else in the family will talk about. Lou has always been the rebellious one, she most openly showing her anger toward her father, who she considers a tyrant. In her own world, Sandy models herself after the typical 1950s housewife. The girls' perspectives are affected by their encounters with one person apiece who enters their respective lives. Norma is befriended by perky Stella, a new girl in her class and neighborhood who seemingly could have any friend she wanted. Despite telling others she thinks he's weird, Lou, in her rebellion, pursues Tom, a new classmate, an anti-America ex-American hippie. And Sandy's first customer at the seamstress shop where she has just started working is thirty-eight year old married shoe store owner Reg Shelman, who makes no bones about his sexual interest in her. In addition to these encounters, the family members are forced to face their family dysfunction head-on following a tragic event in the early hours of New Years Day 1970.

IMDB Rating: 6.9

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ABOUT THE FILM Eleven year old Masha Kulabokhova is about to be adopted into fourteen year old Cami Diaz's family. Masha grew up in a Russian orphanage; Cami was born and raised in Wisconsin and has been the exclusive focus of her parents' love her whole life. The process of Masha becoming part of the Diaz family is going to change both girls forever. THE DARK MATTER OF LOVE follows Masha as she leaves Russia to spend her first year as part of the Diaz family, who have also adopted five year old twin boys Marcel and Vadim. When the reality of bonding with children who have grown up in institutions turns out to be more difficult than they ever imagined, the Diaz's hire two of the world's best developmental psychologists to help them build their new family - through science. Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Dr Robert Marvin, has spent a lifetime developing a world-renowned therapy program that draws upon the past 100 years of scientific discoveries in the field of parent child love. By connecting the Diaz's with his research, Dr Marvin believes that he can help them create an environment in which Masha, Marcel and Vadim can form supportive, loving relationships. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, THE DARK MATTER OF LOVE melds the story of the Diaz family learning to love, with rare archive footage of science experiments exploring parent child love. The science of love has an intriguing and dark past. Experiments on monkeys, birds and even human children have contributed to science's knowledge of love's inner workings. Director Sarah McCarthy fuses revealing footage of these experiments to the narrative, drawing audiences deeper into the dark matter of love and encouraging them to contemplate their own relationships through an unflinching, scientific lens.

IMDB Rating: 7.4

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Amid the walls of an opulent mansion the adult children of the fractious and dysfunctional Darmoody family gather to the bedside of their frail and sickly father for what may be his final months. Jesse Darmoody, the youngest and most morally conscious and emotionally clean, of the family is bordering on the bliss of life's new journey as he escapes his family home and heads to university. The forlorn state that seeps into him upon hearing the news of his father's latest heart attack seems as much about the thought of returning to the home and family he has just escaped as it is about his father's failing health. Jesse's older siblings, their dim but decorative partners, trophy wives and the rest of the extended family are an ungodly bunch of apples, all in one way or another rotten at their core; A select group of deeply charmless individuals and slippery bastards either permanently unemployed and in desperate need of cash, beset by drinking problems and drug addictions, as well as a severe array of ubiquitous 'daddy' issues. They sit morosely scowling round the sick bed like a bunch of vultures seemingly waiting for the old man to die. Only Jesse's return brings light and a breath of life back to his father. It being no real secret that he's his father's favourite child, as well as the fact that Tobias Darmoody, is a staunch believer that his snivelling morally defunct set of offspring should make their own way in the world without use of any of his riches, Jesse is only mildly surprised when his older brother Freddie breaks the news that the family inheritance leaves him enough to afford a college education and the remainder of his relatives nothing but scratchings from the family pot. Clearly accustomed to having been kicked around by his elder relatives all his life, Jesse is less than shocked when they break to him the news of a plot they've hatched in a last ditch attempt to get their hands on their father's millions before he croaks. However even Jesse couldn't have imagined that his siblings would have dreamed up a con involving them staging his faked kidnapping and extorting a six figured ransom for his safe return. A ransom to then be shared among them equally and fund their high spending slacker life-styles. Initially outraged by what he is being coerced into Jesse rejects the idea. However the one chink in his armour, Ruri Lim, the alluring, bewitching, half-hellion daughter of the Darmoody's long term hired help applies some fairly relentless arm twisting and sultry manipulation and soon Jesse finds himself succumbing to their scheme and his own personal collision course with fate. Without any relevant criminal experience Jesse questions how his scheming siblings would carry out their grotty little plot, his questions answered with the sickening realisation that Ruri's fiancé, Cody Bunting, will be the man orchestrating the nefarious proceedings. With this news Jesse's part in his family's conspiracy begins an immediate descent on a downward spiral into an abyss of unshakable dread for he knows only too well that Ruri's, coldly smiling boyfriend is nothing short of a cold blooded sociopath; bleak, cruel, brutal and monstrous, and his agreement to his own abduction feels more like his consent to his own murder. The all-pervading sense of doom hangs heavy in the air for Jesse within the dark rooms and quiet corners of the Darmoody mansion as he awaits his fate. And when Jesse's appointment with fate does arrive, things soon go horribly, homicidally wrong, for the frail and sickly paterfamilias, awakened by the three masked intruders in his home, gathers his strength and makes one tragic attempt to protect his youngest child. With Tobias's weak effort to rescue his son resulting in his own 'slightly sooner than expected' death, and Jesse holed away in a dreadful lonely place without food or water and a ransom that can now never be paid, the Darmoody children are left to realise that their failings, greed and flawed twisted plan have betrayed their brother, potentially sealed his fate and come back to haunt them in the worst possible way. As Jesse hangs between life and death, each colossally bad decision by the Darmoody family lead to another, already weak relationships are tested and loyalties start to drastically shift. Caught in the pitiless trap, Jesse has no option but to go to inhuman lengths to come to his own salvation. However his attempts are shrouded by a miasma of evil in the form of Cody Bunting who, with masterly cunning, endeavours to ensure that the 'perfect plan' still goes his way. But just as fate can turn one way, it can also turn another, and the final twist pits the mercilessly brutal against the gently intelligent and fate proves to be more than ironic, one last time.

IMDB Rating: 7.7

  

"Whistler" focuses on the interrelationships primarily between three families - the McKayes, the Varlands and the Millers - longtime residents of the mountain resort town of Whistler, with some secrets coming to the surface which affect those relationships. The McKayes are a working class snowboarding family who own a local tavern. Father Ethan, once a world ranked snowboarder in his younger days, blames everything bad in their lives on the Varlands. Oldest son Beck MacKaye is the snowboarding hotshot, while younger son Quinn McKaye, despite loving his brother, is often the neglected one in Beck's shadows. Ethan's younger brother Ryan McKaye is seen as the black sheep of the family, partly because he happily works for the Varlands, cleaning up their messes. The wealthy Varlands own a number of businesses globally, the most prominent local one being the upscale Varland Resort. Adrien Varland places the financial bottom line over everything else, including his family. The working class Miller sisters, who just lost their mother to cancer and whose father has long been out of their lives, are primarily linked to the McKayes through past and current romantic relationships. Whistler gets turned upside down when Beck wins a gold medal at the 2006 Olympics, and as he contemplates how to capitalize on his new celebrity, is found dead two weeks later at the bottom of a snowboard run in Whistler. A mystery surfaces when the McKayes believe, against the coroner's report, that Beck was murdered, and was placed on the hill post-mortem, Quinn and Ryan in particular who place their energies in finding out if that was indeed the case, why he was killed, and who the culprit is.

IMDB Rating: 7

  

The differences in legalities and cultural mores of French and Americans regarding sex, love, marriage, religion and family bonds are presented through the interactions of two families related by marriage. American Isabel Walker heads to Paris to visit her half-sister, poet Roxeanne de Persand, who is early in the pregnancy of her second child. Isabel arrives to find that Roxy's French husband, Charles-Henri de Persand, has just left Roxy, the sisters both eventually further learning that it is because he has fallen in love with another woman, who is herself married. Roxy and Charles-Henri deal with their break-up, which Roxy does not want but must face the legal consequences of, including determining the ownership of what may be a valuable French painting that has been casually in the Walker family for years, but which Roxy has had in her possession since she got married. Meanwhile, Isabel begins to explore all that France has to offer, which includes concurrently embarking on sexual relationships with two men, including one with Charles-Henri's older maternal uncle, the wealthy and well-appointed Edgar Cosset, who is himself already married and who is using the same play-book on her that he has on countless women before her. As groups and individuals within the two families disagree and argue about certain issues they are facing, it does not necessarily affect other issues and relationships between the two families based on their priorities and those cultural and legal standards.

IMDB Rating: 4.9

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