Good romance and drama movies are ones that depict couples that have realistic relationships. Naturally, it is more pleasing to see romantic scenes where couples bathe in harmony and have it good. However, what makes any romantic bond stronger on-screen are the small—and sometimes even big—quarrels in which the viewer is given a glimpse inside each person’s inner feelings and thoughts about their relationship.
Some on-screen romantic fights become the highlight of the movie after its release. This type of scene, where a small disagreement over dinner turns into an hour-long nightmare of screams and tears, brings the movie depth and substance. Honeymoon scenes are generally forgotten; we already know what will happen in them—strolls on the beach, breakfast in bed, and plenty of compliments and kisses. However, the suspense of not knowing what the character can actually say in a moment of anger makes fighting scenes a lot more memorable and fun to watch.
Here are a few movies that made couple fights something to look forward to.
10 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is an American action-comedy film directed by Doug Liman and released in 2005, starring Brad Pitt (John Smith) and Angelina Jolie (Jane Smith). The story follows a married couple who keeps some pretty big secrets from each other—like the fact that they’re both leading a double life. They are trained assassins who secretly work for opposing agencies and end up discovering each other’s hidden identities.
This discovery leads up to the most memorable couple-fight scene in the history of cinema. If you can forget everything about this movie, you will never be able to forget John and Jane’s beautifully-shot and near deadly quarrel. It includes guns, bombs, kicking, and punching. The playfulness of having to resort to cunning in order to hide secrets from their spouse built up a tension between them that was only released through this iconic fight scene that nearly got one of them killed. The fight scene takes place inside their house; between shooting, they make funny remarks like “Your aim is as bad as your cooking, sweetheart,” making the fight scene even more iconic.
After they get the anger out of their system, they end up making out and drinking juice from broken cups. This scene is especially memorable because, unlike typical fight scenes, it brought the couple closer instead of pulling them apart. Each marriage story is different from the other and in some marriages, it seems like it is healthy to be at each other’s throats for a while. The final scene, which depicts a happy pair sitting through a therapy session almost only to boast about their marriage, is proof enough that the couple powered through.
9 Revolutionary Road
Unlike Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Revolutionary Road has a heavy tone and its fight scene is a lot more serious. The movie depicts a couple, living in a Connecticut suburb, during the mid-1950s and struggling to find a solution to their different aspirations in life. Frank and April (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) decide, almost on a whim, to move to Paris and start a new life.
Frank, who works for a Manhattan computer company, is satisfied with his life, especially after he is promoted. However, April, who gave up her dream of becoming an actress in order to be a mother and a wife, grew very restless and insisted on leaving the suburban fantasy life in which she felt caged, and moving to Paris. She would work a high-paying secretarial job to pay the bills and Frank gets to have the time to figure out what he is really passionate about.
Celebrating the beginning of an ideal new life, however, was abruptly interrupted by an unexpected pregnancy. Things quickly deteriorated from that point, especially for Kate, whose mental state grew worrisome. Frank realized the Paris dream is no longer a possibility since they have a new responsibility ahead. But Kate could not muster the same acceptance and ended up provoking her husband and turning him into a raging maniac.
She tells him she hates him and loathes the sight of him to which he responds with unmatched anger: “You are an empty, empty, hollow, shell of a woman.” And then ends up telling her that he wishes she had gotten rid of the baby. This scene is an absolute must-watch because of the intensity and the rawness of emotions that it communicates. It is also a red flag for anyone who decides to give up on their dreams in order to play house with their spouse when they clearly have other aspirations. There is nothing wrong with choosing one lifestyle over another, but the true test is in enduring the consequences of one’s choices.
Unfortunately, this fight scene sends the whole movie into an even darker chapter. It is the archetype of a fight that a couple cannot possibly come back from.
8 The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 drama comedy that is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). It is the story of a stockbroker’s sudden rise to wealth and his wife Naomi (Margot Robbie). The couple met at a party; in fact, Naomi was with another man, but Jordan successfully steals her attention and does not hesitate to tie the knot. Later in the movie, we learn, through a very loud fight that what grabbed her attention was actually Jordan’s wealth and power and nothing else. After Jordan starts receiving his ‘bad karma’ for his unethical financial practices by losing money and being brought to trial, his wife decides to leave him.
Right after making love, his wife decides to break it to him: “I want a divorce.” Jordan, suffering from substance abuse, loses his grip. Slaps, punches, and a lot of swearing were part of a very nasty fight that culminated in a small car crash.
This scene is one that sticks to memory because of the story that it tells: a story of betrayal and violence. Some fights bring out the worst in people, and some fights reveal the truth about people. In this movie, this particular fight scene achieved both.
7 The Break-Up
“You’re a prick.” That’s how the fight ended. How it started is just as typical.
The Break-Upis a 2006 American romantic comedy-drama film that portrays the rocky relationship of a young couple Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vince Vaughn). Brooke is an art dealer who loves her job and her boyfriend but feels completely underappreciated, neglected, and taken for granted by him. Gary fails to calm her insecurities and accuses her of acting crazy when she starts complaining about how little help she receives from him and how little he cares.
She points out that he never does the dishes for her, never buys her flowers, and mixes up in bringing the groceries that she asks for. This little squabble lasts a few minutes and seems to be unimportant because it addresses mundane, day-to-day issues, but it ends up in a breakup. This scene is memorable because of the factor of surprise that distinguishes it. The viewer can see on his face how surprised he was about the breakup. His obliviousness to his girlfriend’s pain is undeniable and, in its own way, a little funny.
6 The Vow
Buckle up, because the fight scene from this movie is a heartbreaker. The Vow is a 2012 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Sucsy that follows a couple’s struggle against memory. An accident sends Paige (Rachel McAdams) into a coma that costs her the precious memories of her husband Leo (played by Channing Tatum). Although Leo strives to be as patient as possible for someone whose wife doesn’t remember him at all, he ends up throwing a fit when he sees her with her former fiancé (Scott Speedman).
The situation is critical, and the viewer is not able to correctly attribute blame. Paige’s memory loss is not something she can control. But her husband’s jealousy is also justified. When Leo confronts his wife, she gets a little sad and tells him that she is tired of disappointing him. They end up taking a little break, hoping that some time apart will play in their favor. This fight scene between the couple is very heartbreaking because it shows how little control one has over external circumstances. Sometimes the best option is to wait out the storm instead of going through it.
5 Marriage Story
If you want to watch the slow and agonizing dissolution of a marriage, this is your movie. Marriage Story is a 2019 drama success written and directed by Noah Baumbach, starring Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver. He is a stage director, and she is an actress; a perfect match you’d think. But as the movie shows, they are going through one of the ugliest divorces. Feelings are running cold, and words are running cruel, but there is a love lingering that can only be traced in outbursts of anger.
He compares her to her mother in a provocative manner, and she accuses him of being too selfish to be an artist. And after sentences like, “life with you is joyless” and “I hope you die.” one could wonder if the quarrel should not have stopped there. If that sentence is not a deal-breaker, then what is?
But the couple keeps fighting until one of them smashes their hand into a wall. They break out in tears and end up hugging to comfort each other. This scene teaches that marriage is not a white dress and a big wedding and that if you will take it for better, you’ll have to endure it for worse.
4 How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
A 2003 rom-com classic, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is an absolute delight. Benjamin and Andie (Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey) engage in a dangerous game of seduction, each with their own hidden agenda. Ben makes a bet with his co-workers that he can make a woman fall in love with him in just ten days, while Andie has to write an article about how to lose a guy in ten days. While he is going far and beyond to win her affection, she is intent on driving him away. They end up spending quality time together and develop true feelings for each other. This little twist in their plans caused them to be hurt when they learned the truth about each other’s hidden motives.
The fight scene takes place at a party, on stage, when Andie steals the mic from Ben, and together, they sing a duet to You’re So Vain. This scene is amusing and light, and it passes on the message that sometimes a fight only reveals that you truly care about the other person. This makes the fight an implicit love confession.
3 The Notebook
The Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes. In romance, it comes second only to Titanic. It is the movie that will bring out the romantic in you. However, it does have one fight scene that will show you that love is not a fairytale and will keep your feet on the ground. The film follows a young man, Noah (played by Ryan Gosling), of poor upbringing who falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy businessman (Rachel McAdams).
They are separated for several years when she leaves home to study. A few years later, she comes back, fully grown, beautiful, and engaged. This, however, does not keep the couple from igniting their long-lost romance. Allie decides to take her time and think about the choice she will have to make between her fiancé and her ex-lover. Noah tries to push her to choose him immediately. He tells her to stop thinking about everyone else and to prioritize herself and what she wants. He asks her “what do you want?” To which she seems to have no answer.
She ends up feeling pressured and accuses him of being arrogant. This fight scene is iconic because it shows that Noah is attached to her and refuses to let her go.
2 Gone Girl
Gone Girl is a psychological thriller released in 2014 and directed by David Fincher. The movie tells the unusual story of a married couple, Amy and Nick Dunne, (Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck). Amy discovers that her husband is being unfaithful and decides to plot a revenge trap that would make him regret his actions. However, because of her cold and calculating nature, she takes it too far.
She disappears in the hope that the blame will be put on her husband. He ends up being accused of a crime he did not commit. After making sure that Nick had suffered enough, Amy decided to show up in his life again in order to exonerate him. She confesses being the orchestrator of everything and confesses to committing a crime in the name of love. At this point, Nick is exhausted, frustrated, and absolutely shocked. They engage in a quarrel where he tells her that she has control issues and that he will leave her.
The self-confidence that Amy has makes her reaction to her husband’s threats a bit peculiar. Basically, she gives him a speech about why being married to her makes him a better person and that there isn’t anyone else out there for him. He protests for a while but the couple ends up reuniting. This fight scene reveals that some marriages can survive the huge tides of fate, the unforgivable mistakes of spouses, betrayal, revenge, and even murder.
1 Pretty Woman
The 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman follows the story of an attractive prostitute Vivian Ward (the amazing Julia Roberts), who meets wealthy businessman Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere. He hires her to be his private escort. As they spend time together, the spell of love catches them by surprise.
However, Lewis is still unable to admit it to himself both because of Vivian’s profession and because of his distant and serious nature. He buys her fancy, elegant clothes and took her to a party filled with wealthy and important people—but when his friend asks him about the nature of his association with Vivian, he referred to her as just a prostitute. Hearing this upset Vivian, who ended up confronting him and admitting that what he said hurt her feelings. Stubborn as he is, Lewis insists that being a prostitute is, indeed, her profession. Vivian feels insulted and takes her leave, but she is stopped before she takes the elevator. He apologizes and admits that he has feelings for her. It’s very difficult to forget this scene since it is thanks to this fight that the couple finally revealed their feelings and took their relationship a step forward.
Fights are such a slippery and ambiguous thing. They can either make or break a couple. They drive people apart, but they can also draw them closer. And on-screen, they have a strong appeal because of the truth that they reveal about the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters.