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Staff Inquiry: Our Favorite Film Couples

Staff Inquiry: Our Favorite Film Couples

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Did you ever think about your favorite film couple? We sure did. This month, the Film Inquiry team was asked which is their favorite couple in film. These couples not necessarily need be romantic – while Cinderella and Prince Charming are a classic film couple, Pulp Fiction‘s Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega are equally so. You can’t think of one without the other. Together, they have made a lasting impression, and today, we are highlighting our favorites.

Below you can find which film couples our team thinks are the best.

Aaron West: Jesse and Celine – Linklater’s Before Trilogy

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy as Jesse and Celine in Before Sunrise (1995) – source: Sony Pictures Classics

Jesse and Celine demonstrate three pivotal stages of a lifelong relationship:

  1. The sensation of that first, electrifying and sensually charged meeting.
  2. Learning about each other’s interests, coming to terms with their strengths and weaknesses and deciding whether to commit.
  3. Aging together, struggling with the disagreements, sacrifices, and testing the relationship to make sure it has the strength to last.


Hawke and Delpy have shown tremendous chemistry in all three films both as actors and as representations of different backgrounds. These films have sentimental value to me, as I’m sure they do to many others who grew up with them. I married my wife after Before Sunset was released and we followed Jesse and Celine’s footsteps in Paris during our honeymoon.

Derrek Greene: James Bond and Q

The most recent James Bond and Q - Daniel Craig and Ben Wishaw in Skyfall (2012) - source: Sony Pictures Releasing
The most recent James Bond and Q pairing – Daniel Craig and Ben Wishaw in Skyfall (2012) – source: Sony Pictures Releasing

One of the longest lasting pairings in film, and arguably one of the best, is the coupling of James Bond and Q. Spanning decades, their relationship in all iterations has become a staple of the series. It’s even become a common movie trope, the witty back and forth between agent and quartermaster as all the new gadgets get tested in the background. Their relationship reflects their opposite approaches to problems. Bond is a headstrong, big-picture kind of guy who brings a pompous sarcasm to the conversations we get to see in the film. He is often met with poignant, practical remarks with a smart sarcasm. Even in the most recent series, with a much younger actor portraying the character, they bring the exact same dynamic to the table, not only because it’s familiar but because it works well for humor, foreshadowing and exposition.

I understand that this relationship may not generate as much drama or tension as other couples could but it’s a common theme that is repeated across many movie genres. The hook-up, the supplier, the nerdy best friend, the scientist, the hacker, whatever name you give the character, they always are complimentary to the badass, the vigilante, the jock, the superhero or the secret agent. Their pairing represents two opposites attracting to accomplish the same goal.

Jack Hawkins: Eva and Albert – Enough Said

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfous as Eva and Albert in Enough Said (2013) – source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

I was planning on choosing a non-romantic couple for my contribution until I remembered the very special Enough Said. Directed by Nicole Holofcener, the film charts the romance between Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (James Gandolfini), two divorcees who are introduced to each other at a party.

The remarkably naturalistic performances from Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus are key to the film’s success. They create a quick-witted chemistry out of Holofcener’s refreshingly down-to-earth and bittersweet script. It is a very astute depiction of the nerves, awkwardness and giddy excitement of courtship. Eva and Albert know all too well how relationships can break down, their experience has given them a wise skepticism. Seeing the couple gradually drop their guard and allow each other into their lives is very endearing.

Much like Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Manhattan, Enough Said is a jewel in the much-saturated romantic comedy genre as it really is both romantic and comedic. It is a warm yet poignant film that doesn’t suffer from contrivance, convention or treacle like the majority of frivolous romcoms. Instead, it focuses on real characters that have real interactions with each other, and it isn’t always pleasant. Enough Said is all the more poignant as it was one of James Gandolfini’s last films – his proud filmography was cut tragically short.

Jason Ooi: Jesse and Celine – Linklater’s Before Trilogy

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy as Jesse and Celine in Before Midnight (2013) - source: Sony Pictures Classics
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy as Jesse and Celine in Before Midnight (2013) – source: Sony Pictures Classics

Jesse and Celine is the best on-screen couple. Not only are the two completely charismatic, fueled by the amazing chemistry from their two leads, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke and their shared ability to just bounce off of each other with ease, but they are completely reminiscent of life itself, embodying the love it portrays, through its joys, sorrows, and spontaneity. These characters – the things they do and the words they say – are a canvas for the audience to project their emotions and themselves onto.

We can see a little bit of ourselves in the characters, which makes it easy for us to really get enraptured by their growing relationship. The fact that they grow with us on the screen, over meetings pieced 10 years between each other is just the icing on the cake, allowing us to witness them change and grow as the times do. And just like time passes between the films, so it does fluidly while actually watching it. The realization that mere conversation between two people walking and talking can fuel three movies spanning decades, while keeping it completely fascinating is a boggling one.

Julia Smith: David and Susan – Bringing Up Baby

couple Bringing Up Baby
Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn as David and Susan in Bringing Up Baby (1938) – source: RKO Radio Pictures

When I was younger I would have told you that my favourite couple was from some highly romantic Richard Curtis type movie, as I grew older I probably would have told you it was Jesse and Celine from the Before Sunrise trilogy. But, by this point, I have learnt something important. It’s not about Gone With The Wind romance, it’s not even about a strong friendship built on an intellectual connection, no, the best couple to be in is the one where sparks fly and there is fun to be had. Which is why my favourite couple of all time is David and Susan from Bringing Up Baby.

The film itself is something of an adventure, with the reckless Susan constantly causing problems for the mild-mannered David. He’s a professor, she has a baby leopard, he needs to get museum funding from her aunt, her aunt’s dog steals his dinosaur bone, it gets pretty chaotic. Being one of the infamous 40’s screwball comedies, the film is fast-paced and packed with witty dialogue (written as it was to a find a way around the rigours of The Hays Code). This attention to dialogue and content draws full attention to David and Susan’s gripping chemistry, and I love every inch of it.

David is smart and solid, Susan is weird and wild, but they bring out the best in each other. Around her, David is able to be himself, an oddness which is unacceptable to his fiancée, while Susan’s devotion to David’s cause shows her to be the most good-hearted and loyal of people. It would be remiss of me not to mention how keenly I am alike Susan, and also that I have a penchant for smart men with glasses. But I doubt my feelings for this couple, and this film, are purely subjective. There is no doubt in my mind that other people see it to.

Manon de Reeper: Tyler Durden and The Narrator – Fight Club

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton as Tyler Durden and The Narrator in Fight Club (1999) – source: 20th Century Fox

We never even get to know his real name – that of Edward Norton’s character. He’s credited just as “The Narrator”, yet, he and Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) are inseperable. In many more complex ways than just “weird but awesome dude and wannabe sidekick”, really. It’s hard to write about Fight Club and the relationship between Tyler Durden and The Narrator without spoiling anything, so if you haven’t seen Fight Club, shame on you and go see it now.

Practically, Fight Club was part of the reason why I went to get a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology. When it was revealed that Tyler Durden and The Narrator are the same person, my mind reeled (including many dramatic gasps and wtf’s), and I had to learn more. Multiple Personality Disorder (or more accurately, Dissociative Identity Disorder – never schizophrenia, that’s an altogether different disorder, guys) is incredibly rare and controversial and contested whether it even exists among the psychology academics. The real disorder (most often) differs from how it’s portrayed in film, but because of its mysterious nature it’s perfect for any dramatic film narrative.

In any case, Tyler Durden and The Narrator are, in my opinion, undoubtedly the most interesting, most bad-ass film couple to have ever graced our screens.  And now, let us no longer break the rules by talking about Fight Club.



Well, that’s it for our favorites!

Now, tell us what your favorite film couple is in the comments section below, and we’re also all curious to hear what you thought of our favorites. 

(top image: Enough Said – source: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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