Valentine’s Day â€” a time to spend with your significant other, or, failing that, to spend sitting at a bar weeping into your drink. We’ve always held it to be a particularly special holiday, as our birthday is tomorrow, and we can sit tight anticipating that some shameless, cheapskate friend will inevitably unload a bunch of leftover, discounted candy on us. In the meantime, we thought we’d reflect on a hurried, scattered selection of some of our favorite painful romantic moments committed to celluloid:
"He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not": Laetitia Colombani‘s directorial debut rest on a film studentish gimmick, but as a counterpart to Jeunet’s charm-oversaturated "Amelie," it’s indispensable. Audrey Tautou once again plays an extra-winsome romance-seeking waif, but two-thirds of the way through, the film turns away from her point of view and she’s revealed as the loony stalker we always knew was hiding under that damn pixie cut. Extra points for the uncomfortable scene where she approaches the object of her affection at a party, but can’t bring herself to do more than gaze at him, wide-eyed and grinning.
"Head-On": Yes, we’re a trifle obsessed, but self-destructive romance in film is so often a function of characters being monstrous or just very fictional â€” Cahit and Sibel have lives that seem to be constantly spilling out of their grasp, but that also never seem less than genuine. And we love when they pogo around the apartment yelling "Punk! Is! Not! Dead!"
"Lawless Heart": We can’t think of a film as gently wise about the nature of mourning as this understated British gem about a family bobbing about in the wake of a loved one’s death. Of the three stories, it’s Nick’s (Tom Hollander) that’s the most compelling â€” with his lover, Stuart, gone, he’s left to deal uneasily with Stuart’s not-unsympathetic, but certainly incomprehending family. He stumbles into a friendship with warmhearted, heedless party girl Charlie (Sukie Smith), one complicated by his isolation and grief into something that, in one heartbreaking scene, he mistakes for romance.
"Manon des Sources": It’s been a while since we’ve watched Claude Berri‘s two-part epic of multigenerational vengeance out in the picturesque French countryside, but the image of Daniel Auteuil‘s Ugolin sewing Emmanuelle BÃ©art‘s ribbon to his chest hasn’t faded. Ouch.
"Shallow Grave": The trio of friends Danny Boyle trails to destruction in his first film are all horrible human beings, but the flirtation between Kerry Fox‘s Juliet and Ewan McGregor‘s Alex, which flutters between jealousy, jockeying for power, sadism and, possibly, real feeling, comes to a head in what, if you look at it the right way, you could call a supremely memorable consummation. Romantic!
Elsewhere: Kim Adelman at the San Francisco Chronicle picks her ten favorite bedroom scenes, while Kevin Maher in the London Times writes about David Lean‘s 1945 "Brief Encounter" and argues that romantic films are always better when consummation occurs off-screen (or not at all):
Romantic movies all have the same dramatic motor: the overcoming of obstacles on the path to love. With speedy consummation of passion now more acceptable both in society and on screen, modern films have a problem: how can they keep their love-struck protagonists as far apart as possible?
And if you’ve ever wondered which films Film Threat‘s Chris Gore finds romantic, today is your day.
+ Mattress Dancing (SF Chronicle)
+ Darling, please. Not in front of the cameras (London Times)
+ 14 DVDS GUARANTEED TO SET THE MOOD…FOR LOVE (AND SEX!!!) (Film Threat)