My Cousin Vinnie and Conflict Resolution

Do you want to learn anything from the movies, or do you just want to use them like heroin? It's an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. I'm always looking for something, anything that will teach my patients/readers a sliver more about how and why the people who get along on screen get along. I'm in it for the relationship truths in film. Those entertain me.

Just one look at a scene from a top-notch film directed by Jonathan Lynn, written by Dale Launer-- My Cousin Vinnie -- and you'll understand. Two young men, Bill and Stan, are mistaken for murderers and Bill's cousin, Vincent 'Vinni' Gambini (Joe Pesci) is elected by the family to represent his first client.

Vinnie and his fiance, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) drive to a small town jail to interview the accused clients. The day is long and difficult. They're exhausted and have to rest up before Vinni will stand before the court the next day.

They end up in a third rate motel room and have an argument over a drip in the bathroom sink. They can't sleep.

They argue it out until they have both said everything conceivable, every possible side to an argument that one can have about water dripping from a bathroom sink. It is an argument full of words, rich with data, opinion, fact. It's a great argument.

It is surely one of the better, if not best arguments in movie history.


As she is telling him her thoughts, how she sees the problem, he is hearing her. He WANTS to here her so he listens hard and he gets it. He hears all of those words and a light bulb goes off in his head because he's LISTENING, a novel concept, I know, for most people who argue.

But he sees Mona Lisa's point and as this happens you can actually watch his love and admiration for her grow. Sure, Joe Pesci is a wonderful actor. But the "fight" has become less of a fight. There is no contest. The fight has become a vehicle for admiration and love.

The point is, they argue, they get closer.

That's what emotional intimacy is all about.

You argue to the point of hearing one another, really getting one another, and the power struggle, the need for control vaporizes. Not everyone really cares about power in relationships. True, some do. But couples in therapy talk about wanting to be heard, to be respected.

When couples remember how their relationships started out most will say (if I ask), Yeah. He/she totally listened to me, hung on my every word.

So why's that have to change, anyway?

Thanks Dale Launer for a great script. I'm assuming you've lived this one.

Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc


kumara said…
well we dont really have a problem with this. its our party in the first place, its our arrangements. we never promised you a rose garden, if the purple eye cant even see. It doesnt have to change had you stayed, neither did it have to change had you moved. but it gotta change in the hood of missispi. you eat our food, but you dont respect the servitrice, she is the boss now, cuz i talked nicely about her to the board, we'll have a another party. they have what i need, for you to do recording in there. but dont tell anybody. ohh the lam, its great...paid for!
Casiopaya420 said…
you can choose the subject, but out of my many interactions with people, without opening my mouth or to be present. you'll turn red, and feel dumb. not do something dumb, but actually feel dumb, that will last one nano second in your tiny brain. should this occur again, at a later time. it possibly could happen again. when the coordinates are set, thats when we dont have a problem with your kind. As U SAY.,.asfHYYYYYlkjsædf.dooohhhalæksjdlskjdfkwthfgf
plain stupid, and you believe it your self! just the sound of my voice