Since the time we started exploring the seventh art, we have witnessed work being labelled under the genre of Romantic-Dramas or Romantic-Comedies, all of which are hugely popular in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. The movies in this categories deal with similar plot points – boy meets girl, they fall in love, and get ready for a happily-ever-after.
Over the years, we have seen filmmakers stick to the tried and tested formula. And then, there have been departures from the norm. What would you call films that speak about love, but also about inner conflict, and the agony of loving? Here’s a list of films that look at love in its many shades, not just the ones in a cheery rainbow.
This 2015 European-Hollywood production depicts a Dystopian era. Director Yorgos Lanthimos usually deals with emotionally imbalanced characters, through which he speaks about the human psyche. The Lobster is no different. At times, Lanthimos puts us right in the frame, let the characters talk to us’ eventually, the audience and the characters are one.
In the Dystopian era, humans have to find their loved ones before two months or be transformed into an animal they like. David (Colin Farrell) finds himself in a hotel where he tries to find a mate. Things fall apart, and he joins a cult of lonely people living in the woods. Here, he discovers his true self by finding his better one. The nameless character of Rachel Weisz is fond of David, but the cult does not allow for love to bloom. Rachel’s character is blinded but David rescues her. At a coffee shop, he decides to become like her. He asks for a sandwich knife.
USP: The longing for love, and the pain and agony of finding one
This surely is the most controversial choice in the list. Love takes it’s viewers to a drug-abused, sexually desirable unrealistic zone in France. Murphy is a film grad who is desperate to make films “from sweat and sperm”. The self-ridden anti-semantic world of Murphy and Elektra is open to comment and criticism. The film was screened in Cannes, and like every other Gasper Noe’s film, people raised the question of on-screen craziness and unmatched obsession with love, sex and possession.
Even though the movie carries the seed of pornography, the scenes and shots are rich in visual tension. The soundtrack and pop culture references make the movie appear like it is the director’s autobiographical venture.
USP: Depicts the importance of love over desire.
Drive is not an ideal option for a typical Valentine’s Day movie. Nobody wants their cosy comfy movie date to be a bloody ride. This Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan movie is anything but comforting. It ends well, yes, but the characters have to traverse difficulties to get there. Gosling plays a stunt-double and a contract driver living with his pre-set rules. He encounters Carey’s Irene, whose husband is in prison. Love blooms like a desert rose.
USP: The subtlety of it all.
Director Wong Kar Wai repeatedly insists in his interviews that everyone who watches Happy Together should realise this is not essentially a “gay” film; it is just a story of how two very different men love each other but also can’t tolerate each other.
Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Po-wing (Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing) have started over their relationship for the umpteenth time. They travel from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires, and the movie talks about the burdens of love. Po-wing is flighty; he flits in and out of Yiu-Fai’s life whenever he needs care. Yiu-fai is the quiet, loyal nurturer, the brooder with an undercurrent of violence. They head towards another break-up. Yiu-fai meets a co-worker, a displaced Taiwanese teenager named Chang (Chang Chen), with whom he begins to spend time. The film begins and ends with a voyage: to the Iguazu Falls, whose mystery draws Yiu-fai to Taiwan, Chang, family and home.
Wong Kar-wai’s greatest gift, up to now has been to tell us stories whose content is something we could have never thought of. This one continues the tradition.
USP: A ringside seat to see love unfold in Buenos Aires.
Only Lovers Left Alive
The most conventional movie in the list is this 2013 Jim Jarmusch movie. This movie is famous for its making, soundtrack (Oh boy!) but what finally attracts is the content. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) is not your regular couple that fights over a steak. They are vampires fighting to kill other people. They’ve roamed the world for a very long time, and the movie deals with their life and struggle to belong, and also their longing towards each other.
USP: Shows how love in the Other World can be fascinating.
You can’t miss these
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind