10 Relationship Dramas to Watch After MALCOLM & MARIE - Nerdist
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10 Relationship Dramas to Watch After MALCOLM & MARIE

Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie is a rarity. The black-and-white chamber piece drama evokes a different era of cinema. When films relied less on flashy special effects and epic set pieces, and used movie star power to tell intimate stories. Of course, films like this still exist (as you’ll see in a bit), but it’s rare that they come at the height of a star’s success. But Malcolm & Marie pairs recent Emmy winner and superstar Zendaya with BlacKkKlansman and Tenet breakout John David Washington. The actors are phenomenal together. And the directing is magnetic; it’s a pared-down take on intimacy, a marked different for Sam Levinson, who’s known for the more opulent Assassination Nation and HBO’s Euphoria. (The show that won Zendaya her Emmy.)

John David Washington hugs Zendaya from behind in a gif from Malcolm & Marie.

Netflix / Giphy

If you enjoy Malcolm & Marie, then you might be hungry for similar cinematic stories. To help you out, we compiled a list of other crumbling, complex relationship dramas—all of which are available to stream right now.

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver reflect on their dissolving marriage in Noah Baumbach's Marriage StoryNetflix

Marriage Story

This Netflix film starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver also details a tumultuous relationship. We see the pair in the final days of their marriage, and then as they attempt to co-parent their son from separate coasts. It’s a heartbreaker, and features a number of raw and upsetting arguments between the characters. (Which you probably know from the famous wall-punching meme.) But it also finds moments of beauty, reminding us that though relationships may end, the time we spend with others leaves a permanent mark.

Where to watch: Netflix

A still from the Amazon Studios film Cold War.Amazon Studios

Cold War 

Cold War is another black-and-white relationship drama about a Polish music director who falls in love with a young singer. The film chronicles the ups and downs of their relationship through many years and many European locations. It’s all set against the backdrop of the Cold War, which adds an element of tragedy and danger to their union. Like many of the titles on this list, Cold War is a searing love story you won’t soon forget.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie lounge in a bed in a still from By the Sea.Universal Pictures

By the Sea

Angelina Jolie wrote and directed this feature film, which she stars in opposite then-partner Brad Pitt. They play an American couple on honeymoon in Malta; two impossibly beautiful people whose new love is already on the rocks. He drinks too much, she is withdrawn, and things grow more and more fractured as they mingle with locals and shed their skin. By the Sea was criticized at the time, with some critics accusing Jolie of creating a vapid vanity project. But that’s an unfair assessment of a film that was likely more personal and exposing than we realized. It’s actually a rather beautiful, fascinating film, and one that proves Jolie’s talent as a storyteller.

Where to watch: Netflix

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams share breakfast in a scene from Blue Valentine.The Weinstein Company

Blue Valentine 

Care to have you heart shattered into a million pieces? This whole list is good for that, but Blue Valentine is especially upsetting. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as a young couple passionately drawn together—only to find their romance dwindling years later. The movie chronicles this passage of time, from the hopeful early days to the bleak reality of a marriage gone sour. You’ll cry when Gosling strums his lovesick ukulele tune for Williams, and admonish him as a lazy husband leaving the hard work to his nurse wife. Blue Valentine is everything its title promises: beautiful, loving, melancholy, questioning.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Peter Falk comforts Gena Rowlands in a scene from A Woman Under the Influence.Faces International Films

A Woman Under the Influence

Actor-turned-director John Cassavetes’ work fundamentally changed (and inspired) the independent film movement of the 1970s. His films are what we now classify as mumblecore, meaning they follow no act structure and are largely improvised. That kinetic mode of filmmaking is especially on display in his masterpiece, A Woman Under the Influence. The film stars Cassavetes’ real-life wife Gena Rowlands and Columbo star Peter Falk. Rowlands plays a mother and wife plagued by mental illness, with Falk as her desperate and loving husband. A portrait of unsteady love, this relationship drama is a must-see for film lovers—one that’s inspired countless replications in the years since.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko stand facing one another in a scene from To the Wonder.Magnolia Pictures

To the Wonder

Terrence Malick isn’t for everyone. The director is known for films that are more tone poem than traditional feature. To the Wonder faced some initial backlash—especially off the back of one of his most celebrated films, The Tree of Life—which makes it a pretty underrated entry in his canon. The film actually features two separate fractured relationships: the first, between Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), and the second between Neil and his childhood friend Jane (Rachel McAdams). To the Wonder is transient and strange, melodic and frustrating, but it really digs into these love affairs with a specific beauty only a film by Malick might accomplish.

Where to watch: Pluto/Tubi/Vudu

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard stare longingly at one another in a still from Brief Encounter.Eagle-Lion Distributors

Brief Encounter

This 1945 British drama is a stone-cold classic. It follows a passionate extramarital affair between an English couple just before World War II. Laura (Celia Johnson), a married mother, falls for Alec (Trevor Howard), a married doctor, aboard a train. So begins a beautiful but doomed love affair. It’s a story that likely inspired similar films like Before Sunrise, and that lives on as a classic of the relationship genre. Brief Encounter is also considered one of the greatest films ever made.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Nicole Kidman lays in bed beside a mask in a scene from Eyes Wide Shut.Warner Bros. Pictures

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut isn’t so much about a decaying relationship as it is about a relationship thrown into questioning. It’s the last movie from the legendary Stanley Kurick, so that alone gives it plenty of allure. But it’s also dreamlike and therefore quiet intoxicating—and is another film, like By the Sea, that stars a then-real-life couple (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), which gives it some extra appeal. It follows Bill Harford (Cruise), who descends upon a cultish, wealthy underworld after his wife Alice (Kidman) admits to harboring fantasies about an affair. What he discovers—and what we learn, in turn, about partnership—is compelling as hell. Eyes Wide Shut has taken on quite an illustrious afterlife, and it’s not hard to see why.

Where to watch: Hulu

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet hold each other's faces in a scene from Revolutionary Road.DreamWorks Pictures

Revolutionary Road

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were picture-perfect ’90s icons thanks to Titanic. But their second film together, Revolutionary Road, really mined their capabilities as an acting duo. Based on the novel of the same name by Richard Yates, the film tells the story of Frank (DiCaprio) and April (Winslet) Wheeler, a mid-’50s couple in the midst of several personal problems. He’s a salesman who moves his wife to the suburbs when she becomes pregnant. She wants to be an actress but struggles to find work. Their creative frustrations serve as a backdrop for this devastating relationship drama.

Where to watch: HBO Max

George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman grasp at one another in a scene from Journey to Italy.Titanus Distribuzione

Journey to Italy

This Roberto Rossellini film is another iconic piece of classic cinema. It stars his then-wife Ingrid Bergman and British icon George Sanders as a married English couple who travel to Naples after inheriting a villa. On the verge of divorce, they choose to spend most of the trip separately. But during their trip, the couple experience changes that draw them back together.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Malcolm & Marie hits Netflix on February 5.

Featured Image: Netflix

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