Last year's By The Seais a sombre drama about a disintegrating marriage. It's suddenly become difficult to imagine being able to sink into the reality of the movie in any normal sense now that the real-life marriage of it's two stars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (who also wrote and directed), has ended, enrapturing the world.
It highlights the real victim of any Hollywood divorce - the filmgoer who subsequently sees a film starring the dissoluted parties. In this blog I will cite several other films that will forever be primarily associated with the real-life break-up of the lead actors.
Probably the only film on this list to have it both ways. 20th Century Fox initially fretted that Elizabeth Taylor's on-set affair with Richard Burton (both were married to other people) would turn off audiences who they presumed would be offended by such prurient behaviour, and tried to keep a lid on it. Then as the flagrantly public affair began to entrance the globe, the studio leaned in and rode the publicity wave. You wouldn't necessarily say the knowledge of the Burton/Taylor affair (and the years of ensuing drama) ruins the film - their on-screen chemistry is scintillating - but it definitely colours every viewing of the lavish epic.
The Marrying Man (aka Too Hot Too Handle) (1991) and The Getaway (1994)
The venomous post-marriage discourse between Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger has rendered their onscreen collaborations morbid affairs indeed. Their first film together is a justly forgotten comedy, but their second cinematic pairing is an underrated crime thriller directed by Kiwi filmmaker Roger Donaldson (The World's Fastest Indian, No Way Out).
A remake of the 1972 film starring Steve McQueen and Ali Macgraw (overshadowed in its own time by an affair between the leads), The Getaway one of the few gritty 90s crime thrillers to live up to the gauntlet Tarantino threw down with Reservoir Dogs. Worth seeing for the french fries scene alone.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Director Stanley Kubrick said ahead of time that his plan with Eyes Wide Shut was to cast a real-life Hollywood couple as the film's married lead characters, then cause them to split up. Mission accomplished, Stanley! I would argue that this underrated film isn't overshadowed by the subsequent divorce of its lead actors, and is maybe even enhanced by it. It remains the defining aspect of the project for most people, however.
Proof of Life (2000)
Like The Getaway, this is a decent genre film that didn't deserve to be overshadowed by the short-lived tabloid-friendly affair between it's lead actors, Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan, who play characters who also sort of have an affair. The kidnapping thriller has some great stuff in it, and is worth a watch, but good luck thinking about anything but Crowe and Ryan kissing behind the bike sheds.
We can't blame Gigli's awfulness entirely on the assiduously documented relationship between leads Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, but the pairing certainly played a role. Their second collaboration, Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl (2004), is also a perfectly terrible film in its own right.