That time of year is finally upon us – appearing like a flash after Christmas and plunging everyone into dread for the sickliest holiday of them all, it’s Valentine’s Day.
Whether you celebrate it or not, avoiding cheesy romance movies at this time of year is almost impossible.
To bring something new to what is potentially everyone’s least favourite Saints day, we have put together a list of alternative Valentine’s movies for you to watch that break away from your traditional V-Day tripe.
Whether it be an anti-Valentine’s watch, something cool and quirky, or simply just a new take on the usual love story, there will be something a little different on this list for you to enjoy on your date night!
Starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, amongst many others in this brilliant ensemble cast, it follows Clarence (Slater) and Alabama (Arquette), a comic book/Elvis fanatic and a prostitute who fall in love. When Clarence kills Alabama’s pimp, they must make a getaway in order to survive.
Also with a killer soundtrack and envious costumes (save that of Gary Oldman’s character), this film is a love story of cool and epic proportions, belittling any other thriller romance.
What better way is there to ensure the fidelity of your partner than by watching the 80s erotic thriller, Fatal Attraction?
Whilst feeling a little dated now with regards to its depictions of professional women and more, it’s still a thoroughly thrilling and entertaining watch.
Having also coined the term “bunny boiler”, Fatal Attraction is a major cultural point of reference when it comes to unfaithful partners.
Set in the 1950s and following two star-crossed lovers, it has a very similar storyline as its more mainstream predecessor – however with John Waters at the helm, it is edgy, camp and simply better.
Starring Johnny Depp as the eponymous “Cry Baby” Wade Walker, as well as Ricki Lake, it will no doubt rekindle anyone’s lost love for the 90s heartthrob. Don’t expect your usual musical numbers with this one though – what we get is authentic rock and roll that brings a little sexiness to this love story.
In it, we meet Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), an American man and a French woman, who meet on a train journey across Europe, and spend the night in Vienna wandering the city and getting to know each other.
It is the simplest of all love stories, with a realistic depiction of how love blossoms – but also including philosophical conversations about love as a concept, it is a romantic story that makes you look in on yourself.
BOYS DON’T CRY
Boys Don’t Cry is a biographical film depicting the life of transgender male Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) as he moves to a new town to find himself, finds a girlfriend but is then subject to a brutal crime from two men.
Whilst it deals with incredibly heavy themes involving violence and hate crime, the film focuses a lot on Brandon’s relationship with his girlfriend Lana (Chloe Sevigny) and portrays what is widely considered as one of the first positive and believable depictions of transgender masculinity.
Swank and Sevigny both received Oscar and Golden Globe nods for their performance in this film, which only touches the surface of the calibre of their work – though the film has since faced understandable criticism from the trans community that it doesn’t use a transgender actor. Not an easy watch, but a necessary one.
Next up we have a film from the king of quirk, Mr Wes Anderson. With his usual casts involving the greats of the acting world, Moonrise Kingdom is a sweet love story between twelve-year olds Sam and Suzy, who decide to run away from home and make a life together.
This is a unique coming of age story told with Anderson’s usual style and wit, and weaves in drama, adventure and comedy throughout. As always with Anderson’s films, he uses bold colouration for his costumes and sets, making it incredibly pleasing for the eye.
Beautiful Thing is a British film set in South East London that follows Jamie, a teenage boy who is infatuated with his classmate and neighbour Ste.
When the boys start to spend more time together, their true feelings come to light, and they begin to explore their sexuality together.
Surrounded by various negative forces, such as alcoholism, abuse, anti-social behaviour and the like, it is a hard-hitting drama that packs an emotional punch, but also depicts a truly touching love story.
With an exceptional ending that will either have you jumping for joy, or shedding a tear, it is a little known British classic that tells a lesser told story.
Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee, a socially awkward woman recently discharged from hospital following an incident of self-harm, it shows her clinch a job as a secretary for an attorney (coincidentally) named Mr Grey, played by James Spader.
They soon embark on a BDSM journey together, with Mr Grey completely taken aback by Lee’s compliance to his requests. A modern classic, this film is definitely for those willing to explore – and a far better use of your time than it’s more recent counterpart.
SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT
The original film by Spike Lee has recently been rebooted as a TV series on Netflix (which is the trailer we’ve used above), so what better way to supplement new viewing with its highly acclaimed predecessor?
She’s Gotta Have It was Lee’s first feature film and it garnered him wide respect and acclaim off the bat, and he also co-starred in it.
It follows Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns in the original film) as she dates three different men and the complications that further arise.
Darling narrates the film and it has since become a powerful film for women – both in terms of liberation from being treated as male possessions into sexual beings instead, as well as highlighting the struggles of African-Americans whilst portraying a complex, diverse character.
A landmark in cinema, but also a brilliant comedy, She’s Gotta Have It cannot be missed.
It portrays the romanticised beginnings of a relationship that we so often see in cinema, but it also shows us the depletion of any bond between two people who throw themselves into the deep end at such a young age.
With exceptional performances from Gosling and Williams, and a heart-breaking script to boot, it is a must-watch – though perhaps not the most uplifting date night movie for you and your significant other!
So, there you have it. Why not curl up on the couch after all this Valentine’s Day and treat yourself to something a little different, instead of that done-to-death rom-com that will inevitably be on TV. Discover something new and interesting to enlighten your mind or your senses this year.
Other honourable mentions in this list that didn’t quite make the top 10 include:
- Natural Born Killers
- The One I Love
- Ae Fond Kiss
- Lars and the Real Girl
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Away We Go