There’s no shortage of movies centred on the adventures of buddies and pals, but a film which succeeds in capturing the true nature of a powerful friendship is rare. Not only do the actors need an on-screen chemistry which is difficult to fake, but the writing needs an authenticity which gives the story of friendship a degree of realism we can all relate to. A good movie about friendship will be inspiring and uplifting, and make you consider the nature of your own friendships. Here are some classic films that do precisely that.
Good Will Hunting, 1997
The Academy Award-Winning film features a number of complex relationships, but none is more moving than that between Ben Affleck’s character, Chuckie, and Matt Damon’s character, Will. The satisfying part in which Will shuts down the pretentious college major bullying Chuckie is one of the film’s most famous scenes. Selflessly, Damon’s character steps in and stands up for his best friend in the most epic way possible.
Chuckie cares so much for Will that his desire to see him move away and find happiness elsewhere trumps his desire to see Will stay in South Boston and keep him company. Chuckie is prepared to sacrifice all the joy he gets out of their friendship for the sake of Will’s happiness.
Will doesn’t show much empathy for anyone outside of his close-knit group of friends, which makes his relationship with Chuckie all the more special. Chuckie provides a comfort zone and support base for Will; they play such a big part in each other’s’ lives that it would feel unnatural for either to live without the other – making Will’s eventual decision to leave all the more impactful.
As it happens, Affleck and Damon are good buddies in real life – known for attending VIP parties and high stake poker games together. Maybe it’s their real life companionship that helped bring to life the friendship between Chuckie and Will in Good Will Hunting.
The Sting, 1973
When it comes to chemistry that you can’t fake, Paul Newman and Robert Redford brought something explosive to the screen – a real life friendship which transcended everything they did. The two icons are perhaps best known as inseparable partners in crime, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but they also treated audiences to their magnetic relationship as the con artists Gondorff (Newman) and Hooker (Redford) in The Sting.
The critically acclaimed movie has a lot going for it, but the highlight has to be all the heartfelt interactions between Gondorff and Hooker. Sally Kirkland, who acted alongside them in The Sting, said they truly were best friends in real life. “They really loved each other, and that was so great and contagious to be around. They supported each other through marriages, births, illnesses and deaths.” Having had what could be described as Hollywood’s first ‘bromance’, it’s no wonder that the friendship they depicted in movies like The Sting feels so sincere.
Equal parts hilarious, equal parts heartbreaking; the award-winning French film, Untouchable, depicts one of the most beautiful on-screen friendships in recent cinema history – and it’s based on a true story. A wealthy quadriplegic, Philippe, interviews candidates for a job as his new personal carer. He takes a liking to an unmotivated candidate named Driss, despite his lack of qualifications and criminal past.
Driss is surprised to have been hired, but finds that the job is a lot more rewarding than he’d imagined. Over time, the two form a powerful bon, which is all the more touching because of how unlikely their friendship might have initially seemed. The movie shows how two people from totally different worlds can still find ways to relate to each other, and build a friendship based on sympathy, support and compassion.
Shawshank Redemption, 1994
Regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, there are few cinematic elements to The Shawshank Redemption which aren’t executed beautifully – Andy and Red’s friendship included. As two sensitive and thoughtful souls locked up in an environment that is against them in every possible way, the two bond in a unique manner specific to the shared circumstances in which they find themselves.
It is also such a special friendship because of how much of it rests on a silent understanding and acceptance of each other. There are no obviously displays of affection toward one another, in fact the touching aspect of their bond is not evidenced through their dialogue, but shown in their reactions to simple gestures and knowing glances.
Above all, the partnership between Andy and Red is so memorable because it shows how important it is to find joy in something as beautiful as friendship even amidst soul-crushing and harsh environment in which they’re trapped.
The Bucket List, 2007
Here’s a film that deals with a difficult subject in an uplifting way, with an amazing collaboration between two legends; Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. After having both been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, a retired mechanic called Carter (Freeman) and a billionaire named Edward (Nicholson) end up sharing a room at the same hospital.
Over time, as the two undergo treatment together, they find they have a lot in common despite their different pasts. When Carter finds out he only has a year left to live, Edward persuades him to embark on all the adventures he once dreamed of experiencing. Ticking off things from Carter’s bucket list, from attending a lion safari to visiting the Taj Mahal, the two form an even stronger friendship that makes the last few months before Carter’s death the most amazing in their lives.
It’s difficult not to gain a fresh appreciation for your own friendships after watching such convincing and enchanting partnerships come to life on screen. Whether they make you laugh or cry, stories about friendships make for some of the most memorable movies for children and adults alike.