Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. If you peruse the internet at all today, I’m sure you’ll see list after list of recommendations about which movie you should watch to celebrate the holiday, and naturally we’re chiming in with some of our own selections. But instead of sticking with the traditional chick flicks or obvious choices – 2001’s horror film Valentine and 2010’s Valentine’s Day come to mind – we’re going to try something a little bit different: we’re recommending five movies – all from different genres – that represent love in ways we find interesting or endearing. So take notes – you may find the perfect thing to watch tonight, regardless of whether you’re checking it out with your significant other or rollin’ solo.
Drama: Big Fish
In what I consider to be Tim Burton’s best film (yes, better than Batman, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands), the main love story in Big Fish isn’t between a man and a woman – it’s between a father and his son. Sure, there’s a great romance between young Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) and young Sandra Templeton (Alison Lohman) featuring plenty of swoon-worthy moments, but the important bond here is the one between a skeptical son (Billy Crudup) when he discovers his tall-tale-telling father (Albert Finney) may have been telling the truth for his entire life. It’s a bit of an unconventional Valentine’s Day choice, but it’s loaded with memorable supporting characters, a great dose of romance, and a familial love story that has stuck with me for years.
Science Fiction: The Fountain
Darren Aronofsky’s 2006 sci-fi film The Fountain is mainly about one man’s ability to accept death, but there’s a hell of a love story thrown in there, too. The story takes place over three distinct time periods: in the 16th century, a couple is portrayed as a fictional queen and conquistador in a book; in 2005, Tom (Hugh Jackman) is obsessed with finding a cure for his wife Izzi’s (Rachel Weisz) cancer; and in 2500, Tom flies through space in a bubble ship on a quest to bring Izzi back to life. It’s a gorgeous, trippy, symbolism-heavy film, and one that definitely took me a couple of viewings to understand, but the deep connection shared between the two main characters is undeniable and the movie offers a lot of great stuff to think about if you can wrap your brain around the nonlinear structure and what it’s trying to say.
Comedy: The Princess Bride
Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride is such a towering achievement of a film that one of its coolest attributes is how you could probably recommend people watch it on any given holiday, and they could likely find some kind of thematic relevance for it. The story of a farm boy named Westley (Cary Elwes) falling for a beautiful young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright) combines elements of comedy, fantasy, adventure, comedy, drama, and – since this is a Valentine’s Day article, after all – romance. Westley is thought dead and the pair are separated for five years before they reunite, but that’s just the beginning of their troubles. William Goldman’s screenplay is probably as close to perfect as one can get, and though I’ll admit that I didn’t “get” this movie when I first saw it, it’s since become one of my all time favorites. How can you not like a movie with dialogue like:
“Hear this now: I will always come for you.”
“But how can you be sure?”
“This is true love. You think this happens every day?”
Despite its use of the found footage style and the fact that there’s a huge, unexplained creature wreaking havoc on New York City, Cloverfield is a profoundly human story about what kind of people we are when tragedy strikes. Even in the face of a monster attack, Rob (Michael Stahl-David) loves Beth (Odette Annable) so much that he’s willing to risk his life to trek through the chaos to find her. He knows that things likely won’t end well, but he wants to spend his remaining minutes with the one person he cares about the most. Their final minutes together are an emotional gut-punch, especially considering how the tape on which they’re recording cuts back to one of the happiest moments in their short-lived relationship.
One of the best movies in Pixar’s impressive history, Wall*E is a film that possesses one of the purest and most innocent expressions of love that I’ve ever seen. The title character falls in love with Eve at first sight, and like an adorable puppy, he follows her across space. Because it’s also a sweeping adventure story, he also happens to change the course of human history while on his quest, but the whole thing starts because of his crush on a fellow robot. Even the most cynical among you, or people who are protesting Valentine’s Day’s existence, will find it hard not to be swept up in this sweet story of a robot in love.
What are some of your favorite movies about love? Sound off in the comments and let us know.
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