Every Valentine’s Day, we’re bombarded with a slew of unsolicited romantic sagas and romcoms. Their aim is to fill up our date nights or home alone plans with stories that culminate in those happily-ever-afters. But art is supposed to be a reflection of reality and it’s well established that not all love stories are meant to be.
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Last Updated: 01.13 PM, Feb 10, 2023
Every Valentine’s Day, we’re bombarded with a slew of unsolicited romantic sagas and romcoms. Their aim is to fill up our date nights or home alone plans with stories that culminate in those happily-ever-afters. But art is supposed to be a reflection of reality and it’s well established that not all love stories are meant to be. So, this brings us to consider and acknowledge the sub-genre of anti-romance movies that capture the pain, hurt and devastation of heart-break and fragmented relationships. Boy meets girl, they briefly have a good run and then, it’s time to check into splitsville. So if you’ve had it up to your nose in mushy movies and want a reality break, here’s a list of anti-romance movies to keep you entertained this Valentine’s Day: Let’s get going.
500 Days of Summer
Marking Mark Webb’s directorial debut, this anti-romcom features a greeting card writer who falls for a woman who seems to manage all the ticks and yet, it strays from convention in how the story plays out. Now, this film is special for several reasons. Right off the bat, it doesn’t give in to the tropes synonymous with most movies of its ilk. Films about breakups conventionally leave the audience hopeful that the lead pair will eventually manage to see through their differences, leap over all obstacles and hopefully wind up together before the film folds. But 500 Days of Summer packs the anguish and frustration of a fragmented relationship and effectively conveys that some relationships just don’t stick. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in the lead, this film is that red pill that you need to swallow… should you want to allow practical sense to prevail and romantic illusions to crumble under its weight.
Movies about failed marriages often seem like a post-mortem. An examination of the collective highs and lows, those memorable moments when the significant other displayed uncharacteristic traits before the excrement hits the roof. Marriage Story is familiar and yet, offers an incisive and mature investigation into the demise of a relationship. The film packs compelling turns by both leads, Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver who play the lead couple Charlie and Nicole. The film traces the progressive deterioration of their relationship and how their feelings towards each other graduate from care, concern and compassion to hate, rage and disgust. The only supporting cast member who manages to momentarily steal their thunder would be Laura Dern, who slips into the role of Nicole’s lawyer Nora. What the film manages to elaborately convey here is that the couple in question shared a unique bond and that is precisely what makes this separation even more heart-breaking.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The remnants of an extinguished relationship can be much to endure. Those memories fraught with anxiety and anguish that linger on much after one has chosen to move on from a partner, can lead to much trauma. So what if there was a way to surgically strike them off? This, perhaps, was the seed idea that triggered the plot for this sci-fi anti-love story directed by Michel Gondry. Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in the lead, along with Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood in supporting roles, this is one trip you’d like to sign up for. It carves an ideal world where we have the power to choose the memories we want to retain and eliminate those that cause us pain and suffering. A separated couple chance upon each other, only to discover that one of them has opted to erase the memories of the other, following their bitter breakup. Giving away where this one leads will be a spoiler. Let’s just say this film opts for a route you couldn’t possibly predict or prepare for.
A gentle warning: if you’ve recently had a breakup, this film will render a heart-crushing experience and may not be recommended. Not immediately after a breakup, at least. Meticulously furnishing a surgical attack on the faculties rendered by the end of a relationship, Blue Valentine is not an easy watch. Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, this is a film that can leave you emotionally exhausted if not battered. The screenplay shuttles between timelines, depicting the various stages of a relationship. From the point when the film’s lead couple actually met to when they began dating to when things began turning sour, each phase is documented in such excruciating detail that it conveys the mood and emotion the characters endure in every scene.
Its unflinching narrative doesn’t hold back any punches and is exceptionally immersive. In fact, what the lead pair goes through actually translates effectively across the screen and this one surely makes for a compelling if not a mildly disturbing watch.
If you haven’t watched Gone Girl yet, you don’t even know how badly a seemingly successful relationship can go south and at such an alarming pace. Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the lead, this film opens like a missing person’s story. A visibly distraught husband makes a public appeal to find his absconding wife, struggling to find clues about her disappearance… but in vain. Where this psychological thriller leads us cannot possibly be predicted or even processed when the big reveal is made. Based on Gillian Flynn’s eponymous novel, this is a film that could put you off love for good. Surely a must-watch and a legitimate entry in this list of anti-love stories you need to binge right away.
Well that's all the time we have for today's episode, until the next one it's your host Nikhil signing out.
Aaj kya dekhoge OTTplay se poocho.
Written by Kunal Guha