14 Unconventional Romances for Haters of Mush
In preparation for Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together a list of our favourite films that feature the most unconventional love stories or romances. If you’re a lover of good romances, a hater of mush and you’re sick of Hollywood’s unnecessarily cutesy, factory produced rom-coms, these little gems will be perfect for you.
1. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
While this film, by legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, is set in a magical world and features a war in the backdrop, at the centre of the film is a tender love story about two people who help make each other better people. When an unconfident young woman is cursed to become an old woman, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with the insecure young wizard Howl and his moving castle.
2. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Three journalists travel to interview a guy who placed a classified ad looking for a partner to time travel with. This oddball of a film is made even more charming by the earnest performances of its lead cast that includes Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson. Funny, heartfelt and unpredictable, this film will make you a believer.
3. Harold and Maude (1971)
This film featuring a May December romance is about a death-obsessed young man and his relationship with a lively septuagenarian. Dark and twisted as it is, it definitely won’t be to most people’s taste, but for those who love the decidedly odd, this film has a warm heart and some real humour.
4. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
This film is about an introverted man’s unconventional but devoted relationship with a girl and the struggles of people around him to accept that relationship. The only problem? The girl is a doll he bought on the internet. The film commits to its premise with a great script and the result is a touching humorous film, unlike any other rom-com. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to watch Ryan Gosling in one of his best, most tender performances.
5. Let the Right One In (2008)
A horror film on the surface, this Swedish film is about a bullied young boy finding love and friendship with a beautiful but peculiar new girl who happens to be a vampire. The film may be dark and twisted, but the atmospheric treatment also takes a soulful look at first love.
6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
This film, much the like the one mentioned above, upends the clichés of the current vampire movies and creates something entirely refreshing. Indie director Jim Jarmusch’s most accessible film also features undeniably the coolest couple on this list. Played by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, Adam and Eve, have been married for centuries and yet their love is as fresh and alive as ever. Everything from the film’s atmospheric look and feel to the music and performances capture romance and nostalgia of a whole other kind.
7. Wall-E (2008)
This is one of Pixar’s best and best loved movies for a reason. Apart from its stunning visuals and its thought provoking commentary on humans and their future, there is a central love story between two robots that is as timeless and sweet as any legendary rom-com out there, without being corny. It also proves that showing true love on screen requires no dialogue.
8. Warm Bodies (2013)
The concept of the flesh-eating undead is hardly one that inspires romance, but Warm Bodies manages to be sweet, funny, unpredictable and a love story involving a zombie. It’s so well-written and well-acted that despite its unabashed optimism and romance, it manages to not be cloying or sugary.
9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
This mind-bending romantic drama with a sprinkle of sci-fi is a stunning film – in everything from its visuals to its far-from-linear storytelling. Charlie Kaufman’s scripts are almost always complex explorations of the human mind and this time he sets out to explore love and memory, but what gives the story its emotional centre and keeps the viewer engaged and invested in the film is the lead pair – Joel and Clementine – played so wonderfully and memorably by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.
10. Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
Although it has the words love story in its title, this film is a little different from other love stories. For one thing, it is set in the afterlife, in a world inhabited by people who have committed suicide. It’s morbid concept and setting make the film more than a little off-beat, and the film may not be entirely successful in its execution, however for lovers of the weird, it’s an intriguing watch.
11. Amélie (2001)
This French film starring Audrey Tatou in the title role is the sweetest and most delightful film without ever being deliberately or cloyingly so. The film depicts an almost magical, stunning version of Paris and its quaint inhabitants. While most of the film is about Amelie finding her purpose in life, along the way she also finds love – in the most quirky way possible of course. Everything from the film’s characters and music to its colourful and airy visuals paint a delightful picture and it’s hard not to get away by its charms.
12. Punch Drunk Love (2002)
Although this film stars Adam Sandler in the lead, it’s not like any other Adam Sandler film, because it also happens to be directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. This is the story of emotionally and psychologically tormented novelty items supplier and the relationship he develops with an Englishwoman. They are both broken and figuring ways to meet in the middle. Adam Sandler is a revelation in this bizarre but touching and funny movie.
13. The Lobster (2015)
This film’s high concept is decidedly weird but also makes it different from anything you’ve ever seen before. In a dystopian future, single people are taken to a hotel, where if they fail to find a partner in 45 days, they are turned into beasts and released into the wild. What’s truly surprising is that the film manages to do justice to its concept and in the process creates a funny, real and sometimes scary look at how people fall in love and find partners.
14. Drive (2011)
Drive is less a romance and an arthouse action movie. Despite its hyper stylised visuals and music and tense atmosphere which work so well together, what will really stay with you after the film is the quietly pulsating but magnetic relationship between Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan’s characters. This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of Ryan Gosling in his most swoon-worthy role ever.
Ladies, if all the hearts-and-chocolates, Hallmark variety of mush is driving you insane, if blinding rage is all you have come to associate the colour red with, if the corniness of this doomed holiday makes you want to take up the katana, then remember – Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Watch the mother of all revenge fantasies, Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2, and bask in the gory violence. We promise you, the colour red will have a whole new meaning.
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