Movies Attacking Love for Valentine’s Day

by on March 7th, 2015
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The middle of February is traditionally a void at movie theaters, one filled with tired and predictable romance films designed solely to cash in on young dating couples. Since this is the case, filmgoers (and those who watch movies on cable) are subjected to a hoard of stuff with identical plots, characters, and usually a leading performance by Jennifer Aniston. To escape the doldrums of endless romantic comedies, here are some films that aren’t all that in love with love.


On its surface, “Closer” seems to be obsessed with love: The four main characters in it exchange partners and profess undying love for one another so often that it’s impossible to avoid the concept of love. Ultimately, though, it’s made obvious that love is as much about possession as it is about affection.

“Addicted to Love”

This flighty (and ultimately disappointing) romantic comedy from 1997 is about two people with broken hearts (Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick) who desperately try to break up their former significant others. The film succumbs to clichés by the end, but the premise is at least unique.


Alexander Payne has carved quite a career out for himself as the Hollywood director most interested in realistic characters and relationships. His 2004 middle-age road trip movie “Sideways” is the perfect expression of these talents. It features a star-making performance from Paul Giamatti and great supporting work by Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, and Sandra Oh.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Director Michel Gondry and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman took all the conventions of the romantic comedy and turned them on their head with this bewildering and sweet flick that stars Jim Carrey in the most underrated performance of his career. The plot — a man agrees to have the memories of his ex-girlfriend erased so he won’t miss her anymore — is inventive, setting the stage for what is one of the most affecting films of the last decade.

“The Graduate”

More than 35 years before he directed “Closer,” Mike Nichols told a different story about false love. Everyone knows the plot of “The Graduate,” but what is often lost are the subtleties of the film’s execution, like the disconnect between two American generations and the feelings of despair associated with being young and absent of direction — two topics that are still relevant today.

And then, of course, there are the not-so-subtle digs at love, expressed through the depictions of marriage and dating. One might watch the ending of “The Graduate” and feel happy that those two crazy kids ended up together, but they’d be largely missing the point.

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