This new weekly blog series, published each Friday evening, will feature five films from streaming services which you can access for free using your library card. This week’s selections focus on complicated, dark (and sometimes twisted) family relationships.
As Tolstoy noted in the opening sentence of Anna Karenina - "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." These films feature some of the more memorable unhappy families ever to grace the screen.
Dead Ringers (1988)
If you’re watching a David Cronenberg film, you are fairly well guaranteed to be disturbed, so fasten your seatbelts. Dead Ringers is a tour de force for the Academy award-winning British actor, Jeremy Irons, who plays twin gynecologists Elliott and Beverly Mantle, who share all – a medical practice, an apartment, and women. It’s ultimately a woman who leads to the downfall of the twins’ relationship. This journey of their descent into madness and self-destruction is NOT for the faint of heart.
Nature vs. nuture - does a “bad seed” exist, or is it the mother’s fault? Tilda Swinton plays Kevin’s mother and tells the story of her son retrospectively, trying to make sense of the tragedy which has led to her son being imprisoned. The always-incredible Tilda Swinton’s performance led to her nomination for multiple best actress awards.
Available through both hoopla and kanopy. Read Lionel Shriver’s book of the same name - available through Libby!
Dark Places (2015)
Libby Day survived the massacre of her family – a crime for which her brother has been imprisoned since he was a teen. But is he truly guilty? This film explores Libby’s search for the truth about the tragic night her family was killed. Weigh the evidence yourself – but the twist at the end will stun you!
Available through both hoopla and kanopy. Read Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name – available through Libby.
Flowers in the Attic (1987)
Who doesn’t love cheesy gothic horror? This movie is based on the novel of the same name which so many of us read in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and tells the story of the horrors visited upon four children who are locked in their wealthy grandmother’s attic after their father dies.
So many family secrets. So much crazy! If you’ve read the book, you’ll notice that the film deviates from it. Audiences were so disturbed by the events depicted in the original version that the film was edited to be a bit less “extreme”.
Available through hoopla. The Flowers in the Attic series is also available to read through Libby
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Nominated for three awards, including Best Motion Picture at the Golden Globes, The Squid and the Whale tells the story of the effects of divorce upon two sensitive boys.
Directed by Noah Baumbach, whose Marriage Story was a 2020 Academy Award Best Picture nominee, the authenticity of the characters will both infuriate and tug at the heartstrings. Fun fact: the title refers to the giant squid and whale exhibit at NYC’s American Museum of Natural History.