CATEGORIES Columns, Cinematical


Tomorrow we'll finally be able to see what all the fuss was about. 'Blue Valentine,' Derek Cianfrance's drama featuring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a dysfunctional married couple watching their once strong union crumble, opens in theaters and has been through the ratings wringer. It is, by all accounts, a heartbreaking film that plays as real.

We thought chronicling other dysfunctional movie "couples" would be cool -- but the idea of finding ones that were as grounded in reality as 'Blue Valentine' seemed a little depressing for this time of year. So, we went in a slightly different and more over-the-top direction instead. Now, submitted for your approval, are seven of our favorite dysfunctional couples. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments section.

Beware of spoilers.

Hannibal Lecter & Clarice Starling in 'The Silence of the Lambs'



He's a former respected psychiatrist doing time in prison for eating a few people. She's a fledgling FBI agent who can't let go of a tragedy from her past. Hannibal Lecter frightens Clarice Starling, but she needs him to help her catch a serial killer. A bond develops between them, as Lecter offers her information in exchange for the painful stories from her childhood. Lecter's appetite for dignity supersedes the sadism of his demands (kind of) and both find a common ground. When you're the poor girl from West Virginia with bad shoes, or locked in a cell like an animal no one cares about you -- but these two start to feel something for each other. Luckily Clarice's good manners prevent her from being tossed in with the fava beans, but she's got a job to do and Lecter can only stay on the lam long enough for the sequel.

Camilla Rhodes (Rita) and Diane Selwyn (Betty) in 'Mulholland Drive'



Professional and personal humiliation, deception, obsession, rejection, revenge, suicide ... what haven't these two women experienced as a result of their tumultuous relationship? While some audiences found David Lynch's film to be too cryptic, it's hard to deny the intense palette of emotions he paints with these characters. Even though Camilla and Diane's relationship is rocky and completely heartbreaking, the more disturbing affair is the one that each woman has with the Hollywood machine.

Oliver and Barbara Rose in 'The War of the Roses'



It wouldn't be a list about dysfunctional couples without having Michael Douglas on it. 'Fatal Attraction' and 'Basic Instinct' are worthy of inclusion here, but 'War of the Roses' married one of the best movie couples of the '80s for a final go-round. Amusingly, it's a film about a bitter divorce and the wacky ways Kathleen Turner and Douglas' characters plot to kill each other. Douglas' Oliver is a real somab*tch and spews lines like, "You have sunk below the deepest layer of prehistoric frog sh*t at the bottom of a New Jersey scum swamp." Turner's Barbara is relentless in her quest for revenge and ultimately causes the couple's demise.

Jack and Wendy Torrance in 'The Shining'



Jack has a few strikes against him. He's a recovering alcoholic who has a bad temper and a penchant for using his creepy kid, Danny, as a punching bag. His wife Wendy is like a quivering puppy dog who does her best to keep the peace. Eventually all work and no play makes Jack a dull crazy boy, and Wendy quickly finds out that nothing can contain his menace. Being trapped in a haunted hotel doesn't help matters, where a few naughty ghosts from the past toy with Jack's insecurities and incite his rage. Get thee to a hedge-maze!

James Ballard and Vaughan in 'Crash'



Only David Cronenberg can make a movie about car crashes totally hot. While it can be argued that every couple -- or coupling, really -- in 'Crash' is completely disconnected, James Spader's Ballard and Elias Koteas' Vaughan have the most compelling relationship of all. Ballard's car accident unites him with Vaughan while recovering in the hospital. Vaughan's a prophet, a radical and a Frankenstein of a man who spends his free time recreating famous car crashes, photographing accident sites and sexing up Ballard's wife (and whoever else he fancies). When Vaughan seduces Ballard into joining the car crash set, Ballard is hooked and sexytime ensues between the two men. While technically this could be considered a fling, it's obvious that the psychological fixation they share makes it so much more.

Veronica Sawyer and J.D. in 'Heathers'



High school sucks for Veronica (Winona Ryder) who is one of the popular girls, but hates the clique who shares her rank. The "Heathers" are a bunch of snobby, sadistic brats, and when the leader of the pack wrongs Veronica, things take a morbid turn. Veronica befriends J.D. (Christian Slater), a snarky new student who aids and abets a killer plot against the Heathers. When Veronica's conscience goes guilty, she tries to put a stop to the killings, but J.D. has other plans and turns against her. It's a brutal showdown between the couple to the very end. Oh the humanity.

Mickey and Mallory Knox in 'Natural Born Killers'



Where do you even begin with a couple like Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis)? Their favorite pastimes include fistfights over key lime pie, grand theft auto, rape, murder and gunfights. Not even prison can keep them apart and suppress their "natural born" bloodlust. The film also contains several scenes that play with the story as a twisted parody of a couples/family sitcom. Their dysfunction takes on a whole new meaning when we see Mickey and Mallory have reproduced *gasp* during the end credits.