Its that time of year again, Valentines Day. Whether you are in a happy relationship or not this time of year always feels like romance is being forced down our throats and frankly it makes some of us feel sick. So for this year, if you have had a gut full of romantic comedies or if Mr Grey isn’t your ideal shade, then why not sit back and enjoy watching some of these alternative anti-Valentines Days films.
(500) Days of Summer
This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should known in advance, this is not a love story. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is greeting-card writer and hopeless romantic has his world transformed when Summer (Zooey Deschanel) turns up. Although Summer tells him right away that she doesn’t believe in love then soon enter into a relationship. Eventually Tom is caught off guard when Summer decides to break up with him and just be friends. Tom, who is sure that Summer is the one for him, wallows around in self pity trying to work out what when wrong in their relationship and reflects on their 500 days together.
Effectively playing as an anti-romantic rom-com, (500) Days of Summer offers a cynical and painful look at unrequited love.
Attempting to provide a dissection of the modern relationships, Closer focuses on four strangers that have chance meetings that lead to instant attractions and eventual betrayals in a story of love, intimacy and abandonment.
American stripper, Alice (Natalie Portman), who has just moved to London, meets Dan (Jude Law) on the street. During this chance encounter during the middle of rush hour, a taxi hits Alice and after Dan takes her to hospital, they soon begin a relationship. A year on, Dan, who has written a novel about Alice, is bored of the relationship. During a publicity photo shoot for the book, Dan meets successful photographer Anna (Julia Roberts). After Dan makes a move on her she rejects him, and as a way of getting revenge, Dan pretends to be her in a chat room leading Anna to forge a relationship with dermatologist Larry (Clive Owen). Over the next year, all of them become obsessed with hurting each other, wreaking heavy emotional damage in the process.
Uncomfortable and amusing at times, Closer will show you how relationships can repel as much as they attract.
To be honest a number of Lars von Trier’s film could have been put forward for this list especially Melancholia and Nymphomaniac but I have opted for his first film in his Depression Trilogy, the suitably Antichrist.
A married couple suffer the loss of their infant son who falls through window to his death whilst the pair is having sex. She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) becomes incredibly distraught and traumatized by the event which eventually leads to her hospitalization. Her husband (Willem Dafoe), who is also a psychiatrist, attempts to try and make her better by taking her to a secluded cabin in the woods, ‘Eden’, where they had spent the previous summer with their young boy. Only once they arrive, she becomes more unhinged and starts to engage in cruel sexual violence on her husband and herself.
Featuring the dark side of nature, genital mutilation and powerful performances, this is not the film to go on a first date with. This is Von Trier at his most disturbing.
Living in New York, Manhattan, 30-something Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) is successful businessman with an unhealthy relentless addiction to sex. Whether it is through hooking up with girls on a night out, prostitutes, watching porn on the Internet, looking at it in magazines, masturbating in the shower and in the toilet at work, he has to have his fix. Unable to manage his habit, Brandon’s life gets even more turned on its head when his messed up, suicidal sister, Sissy, (Carey Mulligan) turns up unannounced and uninvited at his apartment for an indefinite stay. She disrupts his sexual addiction rituals and exposes the siblings damaged relationship alluding to a troubled childhood.
Directed by Steve McQueen, ‘Shame’, is a strong, raw, absorbing and beautiful film of how one man’s sexual addiction and dysfunctional relationship with his sister has eroded his personality, and ultimately, his life away. ‘Shame’ is a mesmerising, truly absorbing and brave film that will not be to everyone’s taste. Its scenes of emotional and moral decay are unforgettable and will stay with you long after watching it.
Focusing on a young couple who met by chance, quickly fell in love and spontaneously decided to marry three weeks later. The film shifts backwards and forwards in time between the beginnings of their relationship where they are happily in love, to the dissolution of their marriage several years after their first meeting.
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) appear to be a normal young married couple with the world at their feet, but on a closer examination, it reveals that the couple is caught in a downward spiral. As Dean continues to drink his looks begin to fade and continues to express a lack of ambition. Cindy on the other hand has blossomed into a beautiful woman, turning heads with opportunities in front of her. He never saw himself getting married or having a family despite falling in love at first sight. Cindy was not set the best example of a relationship by her parents or previous boyfriend.
As potentially irreversible cracks appear in their marriage, Dean and Cindy head off for an overnight getaway together to see if their can repair the damage to their marriage and find out what went wrong.
This film is a painful depiction of a married family falling apart in front of our eyes. Its especially cruel in that it shows us how they were in the beginning and now what they have become. Emotionally engaging, draining and heartbreaking Blue Valentine shows us a relationship that has deteriorated over time to devastating effect.