Terms of Endearment

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Terms of Endearment is a 1983 romantic comedy-drama film adapted by James L. Brooks from the novel by Larry McMurtry and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson. It covers the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger). A sequel, The Evening Star, in which MacLaine and Nicholson reprised their roles was released in 1996, to much less acclaim.

The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Supporting Actor for Jack Nicholson, and Best Actress for Shirley MacLaine, and four Golden Globes.



Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma Greenway Horton (Debra Winger) are mother and daughter searching for love. Beginning with Emma's early childhood, Aurora reveals how difficult and caring she can be by nearly climbing into Emma's crib in order to make sure her daughter is breathing—only to be reassured once Emma starts crying.

The film follows both women across several years as each find their reasons for going on living and finding joy. Emma's marriage to Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) becomes loveless, thanks mostly to his philandering, and she finds a lover in Sam Burns (John Lithgow). Aurora cultivates the attention of several gentlemen in the area but is attracted to the ne'er-do-well retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson), developing a tenuous relationship.

Emma returns home after leaving her husband after realizing he uprooted the family so he could be near his mistress, a flighty grad student. There are consequences for Aurora, however: the brief appearance of Emma and her children spooks Garrett into reassessing his relationship with Aurora and breaking it off with her. Emma attempts reconciliation with Flap accepting that they both made mistakes. She ends the relationship with Sam, but discovers that her husband is still cheating on her.

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