Part of what makes a great movie is the extent to which the characters interact with one another. It’s always fun to watch different combinations of characters bring their own distinct points of view, desires, voices, and mannerisms to the plate and experience the resulting situations develop the story. Most of the time, such energy is created through different levels of friendship (Harold and Maude, Dumb and Dumber, The Insider), clashing points of view (Night of the Living Dead, The Fugitive, Collateral), or family (The Searchers, The Godfather, Clifford).

Sometimes, however, characters drive a story by transcending isolated moments of endearment or animosity, coupling or combat. Dramatic or humorous, the circumstances of a story sometimes connect unrelated characters into a family—nothing holds the characters to one another outside of the story, but because of it, like it or not, they become linked on a greater level. It also usually ups the empathy factor because the stakes are higher. I would argue that this element doesn’t just have the ability to flesh out the movies that use it when it’s relevant, but it can make them interesting in the first place.

Click “next” for 10 movies that each use this kind of dynamic in their own ways. Any movie wanting to communicate similar ideas, whether based around ensembles or duos, can benefit from their examples.

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This article was first posted on June 30, 2013