3 Must-See Controversial Liaisons in Films

rain man

The Reader


Brokeback Mountain


3 Must-See Controversial Liaisons in Films

Cinema relentlessly pushes the envelope, exposing daring adventures and heavily guarded secrets. Indeed, provocative films often challenge our conventional notions of love, and thus explore complex questions about lust, infatuation, and power.

The Reader (2007)

Directed by Academy Award English nominee Stephen Daldry and starring Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet, this romantic drama tells the story of Michael Berg, a teenager who has an affair with an older woman, Hanna Schmitz, in 1958. After making love each afternoon, Michael reads to Hanna, who is illiterate. Hanna disappears only to resurface years later as one of the defendants in a war crimes trial, because of her actions as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp. Michael, now a lawyer, confronts both his own role in his past relationship with Hanna, as well as Germany’s role during the Holocaust. Winslet won a number of awards for her role, including the Academy Award for Best Actress. The film itself was nominated for several other major awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Lolita (1997)

Starring Jeremy Irons, Dominique Swain and Melanie Griffith, and directed by Stephen Schiff, this is the story about a European émigré, Humbert Humbert, who is obsessed with young girls, whom he calls “nymphets.” He falls in love with an American girl, Lolita, and marries her mother so he can take advantage of her daughter. The film follows their “affair,” and probes uncomfortable questions about the relationship between power and desire. This is the second screen adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's novel of the same name, previously made in 1962 by Stanley Kubrick. The film had considerable difficulty finding an American distributor and premiered in Europe before being released in America, where it was met with much controversy.

Brokeback Mountain (2009)

This romantic drama was directed by Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA winner Ang Lee, and stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Anne Hathaway. It portrays the complex and forbidden romantic relationship between two men in the American West from 1963 to 1983. Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was honored with Best Picture and Best Director accolades from the British Academy Film Awards, and Golden Globe Awards, among others. It also won three Oscars at the 78th Academy Awards.

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