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Film / The Prince of Tides

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The Prince of Tides is a 1991 romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Pat Conroy. It was directed by and stars Barbra Streisand.

Tom Wingo (Nick Nolte) a teacher and football coach in South Carolina, is called to New York to tend to his twin sister, Savannah (Melinda Dillon), who has attempted suicide. There, he meets with Savannah's counselor, Dr. Susan Lowenstein (Streisand), with whom he recounts Savannah's and his own traumatic childhoods and falls in love.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The Wingo children all suffer from the abuse of their father.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Sallie was a brunette in the novel, and Dr. Lowenstein clearly described as Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Dr. Lowenstein's therapy emphasizes childhood trauma and dream interpretation.
  • Big Brother Worship: Tom always felt that he didn't need to be strong since his older brother Luke, who looked after them and even would defend the family against their father and rapists.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Tom's stepfather is this. He appears to be a genteel and wealthy Southern Gentleman, but raises a bully and doesn't hesitate to hit Tom and threaten him and his family.
    • Tom's mother Lila in the book.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Savannah recovers and Tom returns home to his wife, leaving Dr. Lowenstein behind.
  • Broken Bird: Savannah, after a childhood of abuse from her father and the rape she experienced with her twin brother and mother. In the novel, Dr. Lowenstein is one.
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  • Bungled Suicide: Savannah goes into a coma, but does not successfully kill herself Tom says this was not her first time.
  • Compressed Adaptation: A necessity; the novel is quite the Doorstopper.
  • Daddy's Girl: Tom dotes on his three daughters.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Probably easier to name everyone who isn't.
  • Driven to Suicide: Savannah's latest attempt kickstarts the plot.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Tom remarks that there is nothing sexier than a beautiful woman ordering food in French.
  • First Girl Wins
  • Gay Best Friend: Eddie.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Sally's affair with a colleague and Herbert's affair with a fellow musician? Not nearly as sympathetically portrayed as Tom's affair with Dr. Lowenstein.
  • Jewish Mother: Downplayed. Dr. Lowenstein is one of these, which is Lampshaded by Tom.
  • Last-Name Basis: Very rarely is Dr. Lowenstein referred to by her given name, which is Susan.
  • Matzo Fever: Tom and Dr. Lowenstein. And in the book, Savannah and Renata Halpern.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Downplayed. Tom is an energetic, snarky football coach and Savannah is a suicidal poet.
  • Precision F-Strike: Dr. Lowenstein gets a good one when she calls out a dinner guest for fucking her husband.
  • Rape as Drama/ Rape as Backstory: Tom's recovery of his repressed childhood memory of this leads to a mental breakdown.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Any of the pranks the three siblings pulled in their youth (which, sadly, are not in the film). This includes: kidnapping an albino porpoise from the Miami Seaquarium.
  • Self Made Woman: Not mentioned in the movie but Sallie, Tom's wife, grew up as the daughter of impoverished mill-workers, worked her way through college on scholarship, and clawed her way up to a position as a prestigious internist.
  • The Shrink: Dr. Lowenstein is a Type 3.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Any time Tom verbally crosses swords with a woman, be it Sallie, Dr. Lowenstein, his mother, or Savannah. At one point, his mother offers to get him a spot at a comedy club.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: In the novel Tom is consistently reminding Dr. Lowenstein that he graduated college with honors, with a degree in English, and was an English teacher, dedicated to "teaching Southern children to love the language they were born to butcher." In addition to being well-read, he's also a keen chef and loves classical music. And then there's Savannah, the famous poet, as well as Sallie, who's a prestigious doctor.
  • Stepford Snarker: Tom states that laughing off one's own issues is "the Southern way".
  • Straw Feminist: Dr. Lowenstein has shades of this in the book.
  • Supreme Chef: Tom is quite the cook.


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