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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.

The Prince of Tropes:

  • Driven to Suicide: Savannah ends up in the hospital due to a recent attempt which 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: After Tom returns to South Carolina after his affair with Lowenstein, he goes back to Sally.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Lowenstein enters into a romantic and sexual relationship with Tom. In real life, this would be a massive breach of professional ethics for a therapist, and Lowenstein could easily lose her license to practice as a result.
  • 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.
  • 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/[[spoiler: 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.
  • 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".