Movie Romances You Found Extremely Disturbing (though they weren't supposed to be)


I watched part of Gigi tonight and was as disturbed by it as I was the first time I saw it as a kid. I won’t put a spoiler here so feel free to skip ahead if you don’t want to know how the movie ends…
Gaston (Louis Jourdan) has agreed to take Gigi, who is presumably about 16-17 and from a family of courtesans, as his mistress. He instead decides to marry her. It is a happy ending, presumably, but personally I found it… ewww, for several reasons.

1- Though the movie is G-rated and not at all explicit, the subtext is that her family (Grandma Hermione Gingold, unseen mother and Great Aunt) has basically, ala Memoirs of a Geisha or Pretty Baby, sold her virginity to her friend Gaston. (The relationship is to be physically consummated after a evening of wining and dining, though they never use the term.)

2- Gaston has been a friend of this girl since she was a precocious little girl, bouncing her on his knee and bringing her candy and toys and the like, and now he’s going to sex her up… ewwwww. “Thank heaven for little girls” indeed, you Frenchy perv! That’d be like Alice suddenly getting fresh with Peter Brady after his voice changes, or Daddy Warbucks trying to cop a feel on Annie at her Coming Out Party. Sicko sicko.

Another that comes to mind for me is a not particularly successful 1989 comedy Chances Are in which Robert Downey Jr., ala The Graduate, has sex with his girlfriend’s mother (Cybill Shepherd [see “unsuccessful, reasons for”]) because she and he suddenly realize that he’s the reincarnation of her dead husband (who died when she was pregnant with their daughter). That’s not the disturbing part, however- that comes when, at the end of the movie, he marries her daughter, with his mother-in-law/former wife’s full blessing and permission, which means that spiritually at least he’s married his daughter. It’s not quite incest, but it’s definitely getting really really close.

Then there’s Housesitter from 1992, in which Steve Martin is a newly single architect (jilted by his fiancee) who has a one night stand with Goldie Hawn, who proceeds to move into his vacant house, tell everybody she’s his new wife, and he goes along with the charade to win his fiancee back but, as you know he will from the poster, he falls in love with Goldie and they end up together. Cute light romance, except… SHE’S A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR! The entire relationship is based on lies- she’s got a major problem that he needs to deal with. She’s mental!

So what are some movie romances that weren’t supposed to be disturbing but you found so?

In Clueless Cher is meant to be a mid-highschool aged girl which I took for 15-16, who hooks up with a guy who’se either halfway through college or finished (I can’t remember), which would make him early-mid twenties. I thought that was a bit odd.

Pretty much any rom-com movie penned by Nora Ephram (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail) is full of manipulative, decieving, self-absorbed sociopaths that make the characters in a Neil LaBute play look like exemplars of benevolence.

Any Woody Allen movie. That guy is a cancer upon romantic relationships.

The whole love triangle (rhombus?) in Casablanca was kind of disturbing; Ingrid Bergman really needs to grow a spine and just stick with someone rather than bouncing back and forth like the neighborhood bicycle. And Captain Renault seems way too interested in Rick. (Renault’s conquests–played for laughs–are also pretty disturbing, but that’s a whole 'nother thread.)

Pretty Woman (and more to the point, the women who rave about it): street prostitute hooks up with businessman, then gets offended when he treats her like a prostitute. This is the role Julia Roberts rode to fame upon?

And Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is just all kinds of wrong.

Robert DeNiro wooing Cybill Shepherd in Taxi Driver was disturbing, but at least that was intentional.



Oh yes, I remember this movie. I remember thinking, “Who wrote this, Emma Goldman?”

C’mon…they kidnap six girls to serve as brides for the six remaining brothers, who are a pretty brutish lot.

Kidnap. By force. Can you say “Stockholm Syndrome”? Can you say, “brainwash”? Can you say “human slavery”? The whole thing is creepier than the Patty Hearst abduction.


Gorgeous with Jackie Chan was a bit disturbing in the 50yo <-> 18yo sense. In real life it wouldn’t bother me so much (since hey, who you meet is who you meet), just that I have to assume Jackie has his choice of people to star with on any Hong Kong project so that he chose her was kind of like “Jackie Jackie Jackie…” tsk tsk

Ever see the movie Funny Face? I dunno if I’d say it was outright “disturbing,” but when the romantic leads have less onscreen chemistry than stock footage of aircraft refueling, then something just ain’t right.

It’s supposed to be a romance between the two worst caricatures of capitalism, the street hooker and the corporate raider. Before Garry Marshall tidied it up, the opening scene was of a dead hooker in a dumpster. It’s really supposed to be icky.

Yeah, he brought the hooker to a coffee shop and the Lady in White to a Swedish porn flick. My role model.

But you were OK with the fact that they were step-siblings?

Not really, IIRC they weren’t blood relatives and he was away at college a lot.

The Piano is a thinly veiled rape fantasy: Harvey Keitel blackmails Holly Hunter into providing sexual favours by refusing to return her piano until she comes across. Naturally she falls for him and leaves her repressed husband, since what all women need is sexual awakening via a Good Fuck From A Real Man {you can tell Harv’s a Real Man because he has Maori facial tattoos, while her loser husband merely uses pomade, the poof}. If a man had directed this movie instead of Jane Campion, he would have been burnt in effigy.

Actualy, in defense of the movie/play, the girls in question had previously met the guys at the barn raising and were at the flirting/interested stage, despite being more or less involved with various townies. The guys sort of jump the gun using the example of the oldest brother basically riding into town and coming back with his wife. The guys do actually behave and spend the winter living in the barn…

Less disturbing that Astaire’s Daddy Long Legs, of the same era – Leslie Caron played the female lead, a French orphan “adopted” by the Fred Astaire character. shudder

twicks, who actually worships Fred Astaire

I think I’m alone in this, but I was really creeped out by Robert Redford wooing Michelle Pfeiffer in Up Close and Personal (didn’t he return at an even more advanced age as a “cowboy hunk”?). I mean… the guy was 60 and looked it… how would you feel about Tommy Lee Jones and Kylie Minogue hooking up?

In Big, Tom Hanks hooks up with Elizabeth Perkins, and ha ha, he’s really 12 years old. Ewww. I don’t blame Perkins’s character, because I don’t think it’s normally the sort of thing once asks a prospective boyfriend (hey, are you really 12 years old?) so she doesn’t know … but I know. And it’s creepy. One minute he’s dancing on a big piano, and the next thing you know, he’s getting his freak on.

Hey, it’s 70s Scorsese New York. You show respect to the working class and you get in the face of the boogeoisie. Class will tell.

A bit of a hijack, but kinda not: One that kept trying to creep me out but surprisingly did not was Beautiful Girls and specifically the relationship between Timothy Hutton’s lost yuppie and Natalie Portman’s old-soul kid. She’s what - maybe 13 in the movie? And yet their dialogue - sorry can’t remember specifics - just works. I completely buy their chemistry - perhaps the fact that they keep a good distance away from each and there is never a sense (that I can recall) that they ever intend to do anything about it beyond talking is what allowed me to buy it…

Blame It On Rio has Michael Caine falling for 18 year oldish Demi Moore.

Michael!!! how could you?

I thought Forrest Gump would have been mentioned by now.