Parenting can be tough, but being a misunderstood child is no walk in the park either. As kids, we all dream of having a family as awesome as Clair and Phil from Modern Family. We argue, we make up, we bottle up our emotions, and sometimes we explode.
So, if you’re looking for movies that perfectly capture the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with a troubled parent-child relationship, then grab some tissues and get ready to binge-watch these tear-jerking films that will hit you right in the feels.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Have you ever yearned for a universe where you could find a parent who accepts you unconditionally? A world where love is not a question, but an unquestionable truth? If so, Everything Everywhere All At Once will take you on a heart-rending journey through a multiverse of emotions.
This true masterpiece of cinema transcends genre boundaries, blending action, comedy, drama, and sci-fi with stunning visuals that will leave you in awe. But at its core, it’s a touching story about a mother and daughter, set against the backdrop of immigration.
Evelyn, the immigrant mother, leaves China for America with her partner, Waymond, only to find herself struggling to connect with her daughter Joy. The intergenerational trauma that stems from her difficult relationship with her own father adds to the complexity of the tale, weaving an emotionally charged narrative that will leave you spellbound.
As you watch Evelyn and Joy’s story unfold, you’ll find yourself swept away by a wave of emotions – from heartbreak to hope and everything in between. You’ll laugh, cry, and empathize with the characters as they navigate their way through the multiverse in search of acceptance, love, and belonging.
Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird is not just any coming-of-age film, but a masterpiece that portrays the complex and often tumultuous relationship between a mother and her daughter. The story follows Christine, affectionately known as Lady Bird, as she grapples with the challenges of adolescence and strives to find her place in the world.
Lady Bird’s aspirations of attending an elite school on the East Coast clash with her mother’s more practical outlook, leading to a series of clashes and misunderstandings that are all too familiar in mother-daughter relationships. The film captures the essence of this dynamic, as Lady Bird rebels against her mother, pushes away her friends, and falls for fleeting romantic connections.
But as she navigates the treacherous waters of growing up, Lady Bird soon realizes that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. From arguments over college choices to misunderstandings about boyfriends, the film captures the nuances of navigating the complexities of adolescence and figuring out who you are.
Imagine a canvas that could capture the fleeting moments of time, a painting that could reveal the secrets of life, and a mirror that could reflect the soul of a boy growing up. That’s what Boyhood achieves – a remarkable cinematic achievement that traces the life of Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, from the tender age of six to the cusp of adulthood at eighteen.
The film’s beauty lies in the fact that it wasn’t shot in a matter of months or years, but over an incredible twelve-year span, capturing the actors’ growth and transformation in real-time. You see Mason and his family aging before your very eyes, living their lives, and facing the challenges of growing up.
Coraline is a hauntingly beautiful stop-motion animation film based on Neil Gaiman’s novel that will transport you to a world of dark enchantment and eerie beauty. The story follows Coraline Jones, a young girl who yearns for attention and love from her busy parents.
One day, Coraline discovers a secret door that leads her to an alternate world, where she finds perfect versions of her mother and father. However, as she spends more time in this parallel universe, she uncovers a sinister plan by the Other Mother to trap her there forever.
Coraline is not just a tale of adventure and peril, but a poignant portrayal of the struggles that come with a child longing for connection in the face of parental neglect. It delves deep into the profound emotional impact that neglect can have on a child, highlighting the struggles that Coraline faces as she searches for affection and attention.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Step into the hallowed halls of Welton Academy in the 1950s with Dead Poets Society – a timeless drama that explores the beauty of individuality and the pain of conformity. Robin Williams shines as John Keating, an English teacher who inspires his students to embrace their creativity and passion for life.
At the center of the story is Neil Perry, one of Keating’s students, who struggles to break free from the suffocating expectations of his overbearing father. As Neil discovers his love for acting, he faces the harsh reality of his father’s inflexibility and lack of understanding, leading to a heart-wrenching conclusion that will leave you reaching for the tissues. Dead Poets Society beautifully portrays the struggle of a child trying to pursue his dreams in the face of a domineering parent.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Set in 1980s Brooklyn, The Squid and the Whale follows the lives of two brothers, Walt and Frank, as they struggle to navigate their parents’ bitter divorce. Their self-absorbed father, Bernard, and struggling mother, Joan, project their own insecurities and failures onto their children, leaving Walt and Frank to cope with the emotional turmoil of their parents’ separation. The film does not shy away from the messy and complicated nature of family relationships, portraying the pain, confusion, and anger that often accompany a divorce.
But amidst the chaos, The Squid and the Whale also offers a glimmer of hope – a reminder that healing is possible, and that empathy and understanding can go a long way in repairing a fractured family.
From a dying father to an estranged son and a young boy genius with an overbearing father, each character grapples with forgiveness, understanding, and the emotional scars left behind by their parents. The film explores the complexity of these relationships, highlighting how past experiences shape present realities and how difficult it can be to come to terms with the wounds inflicted by those we love the most.
Magnolia is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged film that challenges the viewer to reflect on the intricacies of human relationships. Its ensemble cast delivers powerful performances, drawing the audience into the complex web of emotions that surround each character.
Beautiful Boy (2018)
Steve Carell, typically known for his comedic roles, unveils a new side of his acting abilities that will tug at the audience’s heartstrings in the emotional film, Beautiful Boy (2018). This biographical drama delves into the memoirs of David Sheff and his son, Nic Sheff, and their turbulent relationship. David, portrayed by Carell, takes on the arduous task of helping Nic (Timothée Chalamet) overcome his addiction to methamphetamine.
As Nic’s addiction spirals out of control, David must confront his own feelings of helplessness, guilt, and fear for his son’s future. The film’s realistic portrayal of a parent-child relationship under duress is both heart-wrenching and relatable.
David and Nic’s relationship is tested by the devastating impact of Nic’s addiction. The film captures the emotional turmoil of a parent fighting to save their child while grappling with their own shortcomings.
Beautiful Boy is a raw and powerful film that sheds light on the complexity of addiction and the toll it takes on families. The movie showcases the resilience of the human spirit and the unbreakable bond between a father and son.
Big Fish (2003)
In the whimsical world of Big Fish (2003), director Tim Burton creates a fantastical tale of a father and son relationship that leaves the audience spellbound. The movie follows the life of Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor/Albert Finney), an enigmatic storyteller who is known for his larger-than-life tales. As he nears the end of his life, his estranged son Will (Billy Crudup) returns to his side, hoping to uncover the truth behind his father’s mythical narratives.
Burton’s film explores the emotional chasm between a father and son, as Will struggles to connect with a man whose life seems to be shrouded in make-believe. As he sifts through his father’s past, Will discovers a depth and complexity to his father’s life that he had never imagined.
The film is a poignant exploration of the universal theme of the bond between fathers and sons, and how misunderstandings can lead to emotional distance and a sense of loss.
Looking for a horror flick with a dash of drama and a twist of troubled family dynamics? Well, here’s “Carrie,” the spine-chilling adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic novel.
The movie follows the story of Carrie White, a meek and introverted teenage girl who is mercilessly bullied at school and controlled by her fanatically religious mother, Margaret White. Margaret’s unwavering devotion to her beliefs and domineering behavior have created a wide chasm between mother and daughter, leaving Carrie feeling misunderstood and abandoned.
As the plot thickens, Carrie discovers that she possesses telekinetic powers that she struggles to control. A brutal incident at school pushes her over the edge, and she unleashes her terrifying abilities in a violent and destructive rampage. Only her mother can stop her, but their damaged relationship proves to be an insurmountable obstacle.
The film offers a profound exploration of the complexities of a troubled parent-child relationship, which has been marred by abuse and control. Margaret’s obsessive beliefs and manipulative tactics only worsen Carrie’s already fragile mental state, leading to a tragic and jarring climax.
The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Let me tell you a secret, the real reason why four Chinese immigrants gather to play mahjong every week is not for the game itself but for the juicy gossip that comes with it. Okay, maybe the game is a close second. But as they shuffle the tiles and place their bets, they also share their tales of triumphs and struggles in a foreign land. And as much as they love their American-raised daughters, they can’t help but feel the cultural divide that separates them.
The movie delves into the challenges that arise from a generation gap, cultural differences, and clashing values, revealing the deep-seated conflicts that define mother-daughter relationships. The characters in The Joy Luck Club are not just stereotypical mothers and daughters but real humans with a shared history of hardship, sacrifice, and resilience.
We are able to see how the struggles of integration, the demands of conformity, and the need for belonging shape their identities through their tales. We witness the power of love and forgiveness, the universal themes of motherhood and womanhood, as well as the beauty and tragedy of intergenerational relationships as they negotiate their relationships.
Ah, the good old tradition of arranged marriages. It’s like a blind date, but with much higher stakes. In Brave, Princess Merida’s parents have already picked out her future husband, and she’s not too thrilled about it. I mean, who wants to marry a stranger just because their parents said so?
But hey, at least it saves you the hassle of swiping left and right on dating apps, right? Just kidding, we all deserve to choose our own partners. And as Brave shows, sometimes the heart wants what it wants, even if it means turning your mom into a bear.
But, maybe turning your mom into a bear is not the best way to go about it. But you have to give Merida credit for standing up for herself and defying the expectations of her parents and society. It takes courage to challenge the status quo and follow your own path, even if it means facing some obstacles and consequences along the way.
Brave is not just a story about arranged marriages and rebellious princesses, but a tale of love, sacrifice, and the complexities of parent-child relationships. It’s a reminder that even when we disagree with our parents or they make decisions we don’t like, they still love us and want what’s best for us. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll look back and thank them for their advice and guidance, even if it didn’t always feel like it at the time.