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The Story of Us: Movie Analysis


The Story of Us movie stars Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer in a romantic comedy as Ben and Katie Jordan respectively as a couple that has been in a marriage for fifteen years. This couple has two adorable kids, an admirable home, and a comfy life. However, somewhere along the line, their belief in forever love is shuttered as their marriage sparkle goes out and they begin feeling that they do not love each other and they may not need each other anymore. This puts their relationship at crossroads, and thus, Ben and Katie, feeling so different about each other, decide to test whether it was worthy salvaging their marriage or it was time to move on separately. The movie, Story of Us was under the director of Rob Reiner, and the movie also features other actors, including Rita Wilson, Julie Hagerty, Paul Reiser, Tim Matheson, Tom Poston, and Jayne Meadows.


Even though most psychologists always believe that it is healthy for a married couple to have small and big fights; it does not feel like it is normal for the couple that is fighting. The Story of Us, exhibits the funny, pungent, and surprisingly forceful Rob Reiner's capabilities as he follows an beleaguered couple from Los Angeles—Ben and Katie Jordan as Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer, who, after being married for 15 years stop recognizing the goodness that they once shared. In their verbal and emotional attacks at each other, just like in other films, they create conflicts that cause a direct effect that is enough to wound the other.

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For instance, after returning from Venice, where they had a romantic holiday and they decide to compose a lovable letter to their two adorable kids, who are at a summer camp; all over a sudden, their conversation is filled with appoggiaturas of displeasure. The couple is not even sure when they should be intimate with each other any more and they use the excuse of sex to argue when the real problem is about power and control and whose willpower is going to conquer. The movie, Story of Us arouses the inconsistency of marriages, where the main characters—Ben and Katie are attracted to each other by the very complementary qualities that make them rivals. Although the movie gives a new perception at marriage, it would be a deeper movie these complementary traits were shown rather than just being told. In the movie, the characters; Willis is depicted as effusive, day dreamer without discipline, while Pfeiffer, is mature and maintains a check on Willis impracticalities. The two main characters are terrific and since they share this amazing bond, they even connect very intimately with each other through anger. In its own glossy way, the Story of Us displays life’s alternating currents of pride and affection, passion and resentment which bind couples together even when they are being separated.

Chapter 1: Interpersonal Process

In the flashbacks, it is evident that when Katie and Ben got married, they were in love, just like many other couples. Each one of them was unique and brought a fresh aspect into the relationship. In fact, the couple was fervent about the differences they had, since Katie was the organized one, while Ben was spontaneous and playful. Actually, according to the couple, these dissimilarities completed their union and made them feel whole. However, just like many other couples, Katie’s humor and free spiritedness stayed hidden, while Ben’s sense of responsibility was kept undeveloped all throughout their fifteen years of marriage. The couple began their marriage with mutual values; pleasure in their physical intimacy; and friendship with commitment to one another and to marriage. These aspects helped them in other crisis and in the crisis depicted in the movie.

After having their two children, the couple became completely focused on the children and they stopped connecting with each other like before. They started leading parallel lives, and only connecting for the sake of the children. The lack of intentional connection in the relationship made the couple criticize each other and began seeing the other's behavior in a more negative light. This also caused them to fight over little things everyday of their life. As the movie ends, the couple ultimately decides that nothing was worth throwing away their fifteen years marriage and thus, in one accord, they decide to remain together.

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In the last monologue, the breathless, twigging-word explanation of the peaks and valleys in a marriage is funny, and shows Michelle Pfeiffer reduce a passionate speech into a verbal shamble. Katie Jordan ultimately reconciles with the attitude and behavior of her estranged husband and she says:

“We’re an “us.” There’s a history, and histories don’t happen overnight. In Mesopotamia or ancient Troy or somewhere back there, there were cities built on top of other cities, but I don’t want to build another city… it turns into the language of the relationship and your only option is a silent retreat to neutral corners.

Ben and Katie discreetly begin their trial separation after sending their unsuspicious teenage children off to summer camp. They begin their separate lives and they even try intimacy with other people. For instance, Ben gets into a hotel room, while Katie flirts with Tim Matheson—a soccer dad. Even with this separation, the lives of Katie and Ben occasionally intersect as they pay visits to their children in the summer camp. They couple finds themselves in an overly emotionally-awkward situation over a dinner as they try to put things to rights. In majority of the scenes in the movie, the Katie and Ben are apart. This is meant to give the couple as much time as possible for them to languish around separately; for them to practice self-therapy---when they are face to face with the camera; and as they chitchat with each of their friends on matters concerning sex and fidelity.

Chapter 2: Culture

The movie, the Story of Us, is very realistic and it is a humorous examination of the fifteen years marriage between Ben and Katie Jordan. After the decade an a half, the couple wrestles with the universal absurdity, including questioning why the different qualities that brought them together and made them fall in love are the same things that are tearing them apart. The emotional draining from their relationship causes the Jordan’s to attempt a trial separation without notifying their children who were at summer camp. Since persistent fighting has become the latest condition of the relationship rather than the exception, the couple believes that they have an option of silently retreating to neutral corners. Thus, in their time apart, the couple reflects on the values they maintained and on their history they shared together including their perfected dance that made them an "us."

In this relationship, Katie Jordan is the labeled driver of the marriage since she has everything put in the right place; she knows all the necessary answers to the little questions; and she has a sense of closure. Her occupation as a designer of crossword-puzzle satisfies her need to feel that the small world; even on the half page is complete. This is the reason as to why Katie fell in love with the imagination, extemporaneity and liveliness of Ben. On the other hand, Ben being writer and truly a dreamy believes in happy endings. Since life demands attention to details and Ben lacks this aspect, Katie describes his attitude to be “…comparable to the children's book Harold and the Purple Crayon”; whereby, Harold—a little boy draws the world in the manner he would want it to be; rather that the way it actually is. We discover that Katie and Ben each were brought up by different pair of parents who indoctrinated them in different ways.

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Chapter 3: Communication and the Self Concept

Each of the characters has a personal perception of who they are and in their talks and conversations with each other and on the camera, they depict this. Also, the words that any of the characters utter makes the other think about their own perception of themselves. For the main characters; each time the two get along fine, one of them is meant to utter a thing that may either sound innocent enough to the outsider, but it just takes that utterance to set off a war of the roses between the Katie and Ben. Each of the main characters may not say it out loud, but they inwardly believe that whatever the other says about one could be partially true.

For instance, when Ben says to Katie, "…You turned into your god-damned mother" she replies, "When is the moment in a marriage when a spoon becomes just a spoon?" Katie is hurt by the words and after processing their supposed meaning, she replies in an unpleasant tone. Through this, the characters convince us that whatever is said by the other can be responsible for these personal orgies and verbal destructions in the other person. The main characters claim that any person who has been married for a one and half decade can relate to them and they both perceive themselves as victims and they use this excuse to let off the steam within themselves. Towards the end of the movie, Ben is at last able to see and perceive himself through the eyes of his wife and vise-versa to Katie. By doing so, the couple is now capable of feeling the other’s anguish and emotional pains.

Chapter 4: Role played by perception in Katie and Ben’s conflict

The movie deduces that very few couples make the marriage commitment at the alter with the belief or perception that their relationship could eventually end up in a divorce. Instead, most of the couples make the commitment in delirious happiness and boundless optimism. Katie’s perceives her husband as irresponsible and thus, she has taken it upon herself to drive their marriage, correcting Ben whenever she can and organizing everything to stay perfect. This alternatively makes her feel overburdened and unassisted in the marriage. On the other hand, Ben believes that Katie ought to be more spontaneous and he even likens her to her own mother. This aggravates the discordance between the couple and makes them drift away even more.

Ben feels that Katie treats him like a child and he actually wishes she could be more like him—by getting in touch with her childlike personality that she has always buried. Such differing self-concepts between the two, formally compatible partners make them continue drifting apart. The perceptions also make them unable to see the other's viewpoint, creating the major problem in their relationship. These perceptions are the reason as to why Ben is bewildered by Katie’s behavior and why he is unable to understand her; making him continue yearning for the harum-scarum woman he got married to fifteen years ago. These perceptions are also the reason as to why Katie blames her husband for not lifting her burdens, or at least sharing the burdens with her.

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Chapter 5: Language

Give example of:

Static Evaluation:

The tendency to refer to the world in static expressions, and refuting constant change is also evident in the film. For instance, Katie asks, “When is the moment in a marriage when a spoon becomes just a spoon?"

Emotive Language:

The movie has the ability to evoke emotions from its viewers. The producer and director achieve this through the use of the characters conversations. For instance, as Julie Hagerty and Rita Wilson, who is Katie’s friends talk about avoiding intimacy with their husbands, Ms. Wilson's states that if a husband behaved better, his wife ''…would have sounded the trumpets, opened the gates and welcome the troops home for Christmas.'' Many wives would nod to these remarks. In the first encounter with the Jordan’s, they are having dinner; and they create a very perfect picture of domestic tranquility. The family shares quality time in a routine that many would covet, while Mom and Dad lovingly share with their daughter and son Josh. This image of perfection touches deep down the souls of many viewers and makes others shed tears of joy and envy.


The movie also uses euphemism in many instances where the characters are afraid of hurting the other and thus, the substitute expressions that could offend or suggest unpleasant things to the recipient. The characters use ‘softer’ wording to lessen the weight of their message and avoid hurting each other. For instance, in response to Ben, Katie says, “When is the moment in a marriage when a spoon becomes just a spoon?”


Frequent flashbacks in the movie help us to get a good feeling for the various stages of Ben and Katie's marriage. These past and recent histories of the couple’s relationship evoke many emotions. For instance, we see the couple’s cute meeting fifteen years back; their touching marriage vows; their devotion and love of raising their two children; and their gradual drifting apart. All the occurrences are emotionally very touching. Three people in the movie, that is, Pfeiffer, Willis, and Wilson, although not very believable, their crying scenes during the course of this movie are also very emotive. In addition, Pfeiffer's final speech arouses many smiles and tears to the views.

Naming and Identity:

All the characters in the movie are distinct in every way and their names also reflect a part of whom they were or who they currently are. For instance, instead of Kathryn, a more modern and young-like American girl’s name Katie is used and reflects a lot on who she was before and immediately when they got married. In the flashback, Katie looks dazzling with her hair long and flowing freely. Katie’s friend also has a friend with a young name, Rita, who is frizzy- haired.