From Notting Hill to Manhattan, Valentine’s Day sits alongside Halloween and Christmas as a quintessential season for cinema, filtering through young teens in the drive-in theatres of 1950s America to the spotty tweens of the contemporary multiplex. The back-row movie date-night has long been a staple.
Now among the age of Netflix, Amazon and multiple on-demand streaming services however, choosing a film itself has become far simpler—especially if you don’t want to spend the cash on the big-screen releases of Valentine’s weekend. Luckily for you, your choice has been made more straightforward as the only major release on the 14th of February is ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’, enough to divorce any couple with immediate effect.
Though don’t be fooled, choosing a film can be dangerous work. A love story with too much fire, passion and emotional weight could throw some unwanted questions in your direction. Here are five anti-Valentine’s films which could extinguish your libido…
Marriage Story, 2019
Director: Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach’s Oscar nominated Marriage Story, whilst undeniably fantastic, is an emotional leech of a two-hour epic.
Chronicling the rise and explosive fall of two passionate lovers, Marriage Story is only worth recommending if you’re in an extremely stable marriage, and even then it’s a questionable choice. If you’re thinking about getting married, don’t watch Marriage Story, it may destroy your ambitions of marriage forever, that said it may also breed a newfound love for Adam Driver.
We Need to Talk About Kevin, 2011
Director: Lynne Ramsay
So you’re thinking about having kids, you’re in the process of trying to convince your partner that it’s a good idea, and then you make the mistake of watching We Need to Talk about Kevin.
Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name is a psychologically twisted affair, following the tale of Eva, played by Tilda Swinton, whose relationship with her peculiar son Kevin reaches disturbing heights.
Toying with the fears of parental paranoia, this film is every new parents’ nightmare, manifested into an excellent, if throughly disturbing 110 minute package.
Like Crazy, 2011
Director: Drake Doremus
Drake Doremus’ surprisingly touching 2011 film Like Crazy, starring Felicity Jones and the late Anton Yelchin is a touching study into young, fleeting love, and an awful film to watch if you’re going through a long-distance relationship.
Jones, a British student studying in America, outstays her visa after falling in love with American counterpart, Yelchin, spending the rest of their days passing like ships in the night as they try to rekindle their love. Like Crazy wrenches at your heartstrings, forcing you to sympathise for, and feel nostalgia towards a romance you’ve never lived. Tread carefully.
Director: Lars von Trier
There are films of romance that are tough purely due to the emotional torment involved, but then there films like Antichrist, which much like Salo: or the 100 days of Sodum, are so notoriously outrageous, that to watch them on date-night would be the height of recklessness.
Lars Von Trier’s 2009 horror stalks a grieving couple to a woodland cabin wherein their tortured minds and broken hearts unfurl a whirlwind of agony. Bleeding erotic aggression, Antichrist is the figurehead of anti-valentines cinema, though it reads ‘drama/horror’ on IMDB, don’t believe it.
There is no trace of romance to be found.
Director: Todd Solondz
Happiness is either the most misleading, or most dispiritingly realistic film titles, depending on your outlook on life. Todd Solondz’s cult masterpiece entwines the lives of several hopeless individuals in their search for individual happiness, however desperate or depraved those ambitions may be.
A psychiatrist living the suburban American dream festers dark paedophilic thoughts, whilst a room-dwelling deadbeat, played superbly by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, longs for companionship. Pitch black in its humour, Happiness explores love, individuality, paranoia and everyday anxiety in the most honest, and coincidently, most awkward way possible.
This is not date-night, nor family viewing.