While some people look forward to Valentine’s Day and all that it entails, others are aggressively unenthusiastic about the ‘commercialised’ ‘Hallmark’ holiday. The chocolate, flowers, pink and red colours and romance of the day are not to everyone’s tastes; even happily coupled up romantics might find the whole thing just a little too crass.
That’s why, while many watch traditional romantic movies on Valentines, others opt for movies that make a statement against love, movies that could even be said to fit into an ‘anti-Valentine’ genre.
These movies are typically about the many, varied and wonderful ways in which love can go horribly wrong.
They focus on failing relationships, infidelity, the ups and downs of love and how people can ruin their own futures. These are, typically, not movies to watch with a date. Nevertheless, the Anti-Valentine films expanded on here bring up important questions about the ways people perceive and experience love.
Rather than getting swept up in the mushy conventions of the most romantic day of the year, perhaps you might want to take the 14th of February as a chance to reflect on loves lost, romance gone wrong or downright relationship disasters. If you do, the following ten movies are for you.
10. Take This Waltz (2011)
“Take This Waltz” is a messy film, full of provocative ideas on emotional infidelity and the problems that exist in marriages. It has been hailed as a beautifully shot and scripted movie that focuses on a collapsing relationship. The focuses on the main character, Margot’s, temptation to cheat on her husband.
The concept of infidelity is explored through Margot and the others around her. At first happily married, Margot feels herself being drawn to, and falling for, a new man. This somewhat unromantic plot examines the way a seemingly strong relationship can be strained in a relatively short amount of time when someone new comes along.
9. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Right off the bat, the narrator of this movie warns you: “You should known in advance, this is not a love story.” And it certainly is not.
Some are fooled into thinking that 500 Days of Summer will be about a true summer romance, complete with mushy love scenes and a happily ever after ending. After the first few moments though, this idea dissipates. The film explored a happy relationship beginning, developing and crashing down. It challenged the romantic ideal of perfection which people frame around the person they fall for, despite evidence to the contrary.
The moral of this anti-Valentine’s story? It doesn’t matter how hard you might fall for someone, you can’t make them love you.
8. Crazy Love (2007)
The title of this film says it all. But while it may lead some to think the plot focuses on a heady romance, it’s actually a documentary that follows a messy and dangerous relationship.
The movie centers around Burt Pugach and Linda Riss, a married couple whose relationship went horribly wrong.
After discovering that Pugach had a wife and kids, Riss left him. Pugach could not accept this, however, and threatened to hurt or kill her if she left him. He decided to hire men to scar her face by throwing lye at her; this blinded her in one eye.
After Pugach was sentenced to 15 years in prison however, he began to write to Riss. The shocker? (Spoiler alert!) After he got out, the two dated and married. True to its title, “Crazy Love” documents the insane lengths people will go to for the ones they love, or think they love. In this case – pardon the awful pun – love truly was blind.
7. American Beauty (1999)
“American Beauty” is a great film for those looking to examine the ravages of a mid-life crisis. In this case, it is a husband and father – played by Kevin Spacey – who, in a particularly creepy manner, pursues a much younger woman. His obsession is a symptom of unrest in his marriage and in his suburban life in general.
This 1999 classic examines, among other social questions, the inglorious way in which a marriage can fail, and the way in which married couples can orchestrate their own demise.
If you’re feeling particularly down on love and life this Valentine’s Day and want something to chew on, “American Beauty” should be a top choice.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” has become a modern classic, and is listed on Paste’s Top 50 Films of The Decade. When it was released on Netflix years after its original theatrical release, it quickly become one of the most popular movies watched on the site.
The film is far from a typical romance. It begins with a break up and has lots and lots of breaking up in-between.
The movie sees Joel, played by Jim Carrey, seek a company to remove all of his memories of his ex, Kate Winslet‘s Clementine. Sounds like an amazing way to move on from a break up? Perhaps if the human mind and heart were so straight forward, but as this movie proves – we’re not. Struggling through a tough break this Valentine’s day? “Eternal Sunshine” will remind you that there’s no cure other than time, and you may as well indulge the pain while you’re in it.
5. Blue Valentine (2010)
“Blue Valentine” is by far one of the most depressing movies ever made about love.
The film focuses on a married couple, played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, from their initial meeting through their relationship, and their eventual demise. It’s all about endings, pain, and a sprinkling of plain old hate – a harsh, stylish reminder that the line between love and hate is, as they say, very thin.
The superb performances from both leading actors is incentive enough to watch this movie, but if you’re feeling a little bit lonely and a lot single this Valentine’s Day then “Blue Valentine” serves as a helpful reminder that all those seemingly happy couples surrounding you probably aren’t quite picture-perfect behind closed doors.
4. Closer (2004)
Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Julia Roberts star in this wildly depressing film. Portman plays a stripper who moves to London and begins to date Dan (Jude Law). After dating for a year, Dan begins to chat with Anna (Julia Roberts), which ultimately leads a new man, Larry, to Anna. Sounds confusing? It is. And it’s filled with resentment, deception and failure. Everything an anti-Valentine’s day movie goer could hope for.
The beautifully-shot film captures the raw human emotion that exists in all the characters, and it’s nothing short of heartbreaking.
All four main characters are portrayed in a negative light, each playing the villain of their own romantic scenarios. This one will certainly make you question whether or not the whole love thing is ever worthwhile.
“Intimacy” is a story of a passionate, but ultimately failing relationship. A failed London Musician, Jay, has left his family and he begins to meet with an anonymous woman for sex. He doesn’t know her name but begins to feel curious about her.
This curiosity is what leads to the downfall of their relationship, or any real chance of one. Although they first began as a sexual couple, Jay falls in love with her. He discovers that she’s not at all what she seemed, and things pan out in a surprising – but far from inspiring – way.
If nothing else, this movie will discourage you from resorting to Tindr this Valentine’s Day – who knows what sort of secrets that hook-up might be hiding?
2. Little Children (2006)
“Little Children” is a film that explores infidelity and the failure of marriage due to irrational impulses. The plot takes the viewer through a roller coaster of chance encounters and often disturbing moments. Kate Winslet stars in the film as Sarah, feeling restless as a stay at home mom.
She eventually meets a stay at home dad and begins an affair. The story follows these two homemakers as they struggle to keep their affair and temptations under wrap. It all comes together at the end of the film in a shocking and horribly disheartening way. Definitely a movie that resists the Valentine’s conventions, and one to watch if you simple want to indulge in some self-pitying hopelessness.
1. Like Crazy
This movie, featuring a pre-Hunger Games JLaw and a pre-Oscar nomination Felicity Jones is a beautiful love story. Until it’s not. Have you ever experienced a long-distance relationship? The hope, the joy, the ultimate and seemingly inevitable failure?
“Like Crazy” is all about that, and you can’t help rooting for this transatlantic couple despite all the signs that it just isn’t going to work. Aside from being wonderfully arty and well acted (and largely improvised) by the two leads, “Like Crazy” will teach you a thing or two about what to do – and what not to do – in the quest for that elusive ideal relationship.