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Romantic Films: Exploring the unconventional

Valentine’s Day. Exciting for some, miserable for others and for the rest, simply just an ordinary day. Whatever your current relationship status, I would recommend you comfort yourself with a movie. I mean, who doesn’t want to cuddle up on the sofa with a chocolate box ready to devour regardless of whether you’ve been hit by Cupid’s arrow or not? The usual choice of film at this time of year may well end up being a Rom-Com but since many tend to be clichéd and often predictable I’m suggesting a few unconventional, alternative choices that might be more interesting.

Lone Scherfig’s An Education (2009) focuses on the life of a teenage girl in 1960’s London. Her studious character is put to the test when a playboy twice her age comes into her life and whisks her away to experience the ‘high life’. The film stars a young Carey Mulligan who lights up the screen with her charm and wit alongside Peter Sarsgaard as David who shows her a lifestyle she has never known before. Although many viewers may find the age gap and principle of the film problematic, we are simultaneously in awe of the locations they visit and how exciting it must all be for her even if can sometimes be uncomfortable. It remains however a great watch which delivers an important message about life choices, education and love.

Mr Nobody (2009) directed by Jaco Van Dormael and starring Jared Leto is my favourite film of all time, a masterpiece in editing and carefully crafted cinematography. On first impression, the film seems challenging to watch. There are several storylines that cross over with little consistency in plot as we see the same character in different lives. The musical score by Pierre van Dormael fills you with so much emotion especially when you translate the French titles to each track because you see parts of yourself in them. The idea of real love being dependant on time and choices makes you see the world in a new light and can offer a sense of hope. Nemo, the protagonist, makes many decisions with the pursuit of happiness driving them and this is something the film is trying to tell us about ourselves: it doesn’t matter which direction we choose because every choice is equal in weighting and will lead to a string of future events.

Not all love is between humans. Her (2013) directed by Spike Jonze is a clever film about a love affair between a man, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). They experience a wonderful relationship where they do everything together, laugh at each other’s jokes and fall in love. This may seem completely normal and even sweet until I tell you that Samantha is an OS system. The film effectively focuses on modern technology’s challenges and our dependencies on smart devices to answer our questions, remind us to do things and obey our commands, something the current world is still adjusting to. Jonze does not shy away from this abstract idea and instead directs a film that is funny, intelligent and also emotional despite one of the main characters being an OS system.

And finally, we come to a cult classic. True Romance (1993) directed by Tony Scott and starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in a story about a young man who hires a prostitute for a night and ends up falling in love with her. Despite facing issues akin to those prevalent in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (2001) our protagonists take a different route as they decide to confront her pimp, steal his money and make a run for it in the hope of beginning a new life. The oddly charming script is written by none other than Quentin Tarantino who contrasts an abundance of violence with the purest love, making this a thrilling ride of a movie. The iconic song ‘You’re So Cool’ composed by Hans Zimmer really adds an uplifting quality, making it well worth the watch.

Whilst the typical Rom-Com has its time and place and can be comforting, if you are looking to try something new, I thoroughly recommend each of these movies. They approach the idea of romance and love in refreshing ways, contain profound concepts, great scripts and unforgettable music. I have tried to offer choices that will appeal to almost everyone so all I can say for now is if you’re not in love with anyone as such, fall in love with a new film!

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