One of the most important things I learned in film school is that movies are great at asking questions and terrible at giving answers. Overall, that tends to be pretty true. However, if you dig really deep, it’s actually a helpful exercise to use films to inform you on how to live your life, and especially how to conduct yourself in a relationship. So, what’s the best reference for relationship advice? Romantic comedies? Of course not. Those are pretty much all toxic relationships populated by horrible human beings, if you really think about it. No, the best place to go to learn how to really love someone is an action movie.
1. If you love a woman, do whatever it takes to get her back.
Sources: Die Hard, Con Air
Obviously, there’s a line to be drawn here. As we saw from the Die Hard sequels, the state of John McClane’s marriage has a correlating relationship with the believability of his stunts. The more superhuman McClane becomes, the more he loses Holly, but excluding the increasing terribleness of that franchise, if we look at the perfection of the first film, we see a man who just wants to see his family for Christmas and patch things up with his wife. If it takes walking across glass barefoot and throwing goons off a skyscraper, by God, he’ll do it. The same goes for Cameron Poe. Nic Cage just wants to get back to his wife and bring a stuffed bunny to his daughter. The fact that bananabrains John Malkovich has other plans for him has no bearing on that. He’ll go through anyone he has to, and if he has to stay on a plane that’s about to crash onto the Vegas strip and then chase down the villains on motorcycles to do it, so be it.
2. The key to a healthy relationship is doing things together.
Source: Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Hiking, wine tasting, going to the movies, artisanal pottery classes, killing a bunch of henchmen–all of these things are activities that can bring a couple closer. Think how boring Brad and Angelina’s on-screen romance was at the beginning of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Once they realized they were essentially on the same team, wow, did that marriage get kicked up a notch. The fire from that fictional couple’s love for each other was so hot, it managed to engulf their off-screen relationship. I’m pretty sure that you can see the exact moment in Brad Pitt’s eyes where Jennifer Aniston is dead to him (please don’t kill me, ladies). The important thing is not what you’re doing, but the fact that the two of you are doing it together.
3. Take the slow moments to work on your physical relationship.
Source: The Terminator, Top Gun
There is no such thing as a life that’s too busy for non-procreative intercourse. Sure, sometimes it seems like the world is crashing down around you, that everyone’s out to get you, or disenfranchised Marines have set up metaphoric VX gas rockets in allegorical Alcatraz, but remember, you and your lady are all you’ve got in this life, so if you get a break, take some time for the lovey-dovey stuff. And as a bonus lesson, there’s nothing that can kick up a solid boot knockin’ session than a good soundtrack. Sure, you could steal “Take My Breath Away,” but be original, would you? If you were making your own action movie, you wouldn’t steal a signature song from another film, would you? Of course not. If you want a song that gives the “darkly lit room, streetlight coming in through the blinds, fan slowly rotating circa 1986” vibe, I’ll give you a freebie: “Learning To Fly” by Pink Floyd. That guitar will get you both going immediately. I guarantee it. Just be warned that you’ll probably have to end up retiring it after I use it in an actual action movie sex scene in the next decade or so.
4. Sometimes your ideal partner is someone who’s nothing like you.
Source: Lethal Weapon, The Rock, 48 Hours, Tango & Cash, Rush Hour, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
If action movies are truly great at one thing other than finding new ways to destroy iconic buildings and monuments, it’s pairing up two people who couldn’t be more different from each other. What it shows us is that sometimes in order to achieve a common goal, such as saving the Chinese ambassador’s daughter, tracking down the man who killed your friend, or establishing a stable foundation of love and respect, you can often find perfection in your opposite. I’ve said it a thousand times in a host of different ways, but I don’t want to date someone who’s exactly like me. I would rather show someone all the things I like and have a fresh take on them than date a girl who can quote Goodfellas as well as I can. You ought to find someone whose abilities and taste complement, rather than mirror, your own. Plus, I’m always searching for new things to like, and it’s a hell of a lot easier when you’re playing genital pattycake with someone who can make suggestions. The perfect girlfriend would be like a human Pandora for every type of media, which also has the added bonus of boobs.
5. Live your lives a quarter mile at a time.
Source: The Fast and the Furious
I’ve learned so many important lessons from Dominic Toretto, I feel like I at least owe the guy a beer. Just like how he took on each day with the challenges it presented (Triads trying to take his turf, the FBI on his ass, Paul Walker potentially being a better driver than him), you ought to do the same. Notice that his relationship with Letty is the strongest in the franchise. Even when she had fucking amnesia, his love for her overcame everything. That comes from living in the moment at every opportunity. If the two of you can make an effort to stay present in your relationship, and not worry about the guys trying to arrest you for hijacking semi-trucks, you’re much more likely to have a constantly happy and stable relationship–until the hypothetical relationship equivalent of The Rock starts chasing you. Then you’re in trouble. My advice? Get that problem to join your team, otherwise you’re probably gonna end up with no girlfriend and a whole bunch of metaphorical baby oil on your face.
That makes sense, right?