True confession: I have a soft spot in my heart for an old, funny, fluffy little film called “Shirley Valentine,” the story of a 42-year-old housewife named Shirley Bradshaw who has finally had it with the tiny, dreary life she’s been leading and decides to go to Greece to find her younger self, to become Shirley Valentine once again.
If you’re a stickler about spoilers, stop reading now and go watch it, because the clip I’ve linked to (below) is taken from the ending of the film, a scene that neatly captures what I try to get all of my couple clients to do: to look upon their exasperating, irritating, ill-behaved partners with the eye of compassion.
Before you watch the scene, you should know that while her husband never abused her in the film, he behaved like a shit to her. He treated her like his womanservant, and forgot their love story. They suffer a painful confrontation just before she leaves for Greece, and he, well, he misbehaves. And it takes him quite a while to figure out that he needs go after her if he wants to save their marriage.
I can’t get enough of the way she looks at him as he walks down the beach in his uncomfortable suit and flat suitcase and miserable middle-class-British moustache. Watch how this woman looks past all that and sees the boy she loved, and knows (perhaps for the first time) the real reason why he behaved so badly. It is so hard to do this with your spouse or partner. But when you can manage it, it is a sweet, lovely experience for both of you.
The scene starts at about 1:00, money quote at 2:03, but enjoy the first clip, too: it’s a teaser for the rest of the film. (Oh, and Joanna Lumley makes a cameo in the film: What. Is. Not. To. Like?!)