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Love – the cause of both great joy and horrendous pain. Art has always tried to reflect the beautifully broken – how it feels when the heart is shattered into a thousand pieces and that inevitable question: ‘What do I do next?’
Hollywood has churned out movies which examine the subject, from the elaborate fluff of romcoms like Love Actually, to the deep cinematic relationship inquests of Revolutionary Road. Presented here, however, are five movies for this Valentine’s Day that go beyond the usual ‘boy meets girl and one gets jilted’. They examine all aspects: the break-up to the hope, the obsession to infidelity. They also teach the only ways to survive that assassination of dreams.
High Fidelity (2000)
“What came first – the music or the misery?” – Rob Gordon
This the ultimate break-up movie, the coolest surrounding the subject. It focuses on record store owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) who narrates to the camera his top-five worst relationship break-ups including the one he is going through at that very moment.
While the most amazing music echos through the movie, the question you are ultimately left with is whether it’s his own self-sabotage and fear of commitment that has lead to every female leaving his life in the worst possible fashion. Through the power of submerging himself under the weight of music, he puts together list after list of reasons why women abandon him, until he figures out that it’s him who leaves them.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Watching someone refuse to accept the end of a relationship, clinging desperately to the last straws of love, can be unsettling, Yet when it’s as stylish as this you can’t help but root for the underdog. In David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook that underdog is Pat (Bradley Cooper). Recently divorced, with his confidence and health squashed under the weight of a dead marriage, he agrees to partner up with widower Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) in a dance competition to prove to his ex-wife that he is a changed man. Yet by the end of the movie Pat and Tiffany fall in love, proving hope exists and not always in the place you think.
“If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn’t be a human being” – Veronica Sawyer
The obsession that comes with love can be unnerving, especially after the eventual break up. Enter cult classic Heathers. Here we find school-socialite Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), bored with the usual routine. While looking for excitement, she comes across new bad boy in school Jason “J.D.” Dean (Christian Slater). A passion erupts between the two until Veronica becomes aware of J.D’s flaws, those being wanting to murder her friends one by one to please her. Freaked out, she decides to break-up with him though not go to the police. J.D takes it hard. He turns his attention to killing Veronica and everyone at the school.
Not to ruin the ending for those who haven’t enjoyed this 80s classic, I will say it is as cool as it sounds. Heathers also features Christian Slater inadvertently impersonating Jack Nicholson in this stylish black comedy from the era of teenage-romance movies.
The Graduate (1967)
The reason for relationship implosions can be infidelity. There is no better examination of how to survive that bombshell than Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. In this gem from 1967, we find a 21-year-old disillusioned college student Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), falling for, or rather being seduced by forty-something Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft).
An affair explodes between the two until Braddock then falls for the daughter of his lover, Elaine. All gets very messy understandably when the lovelorn Ben tells Elaine that basically he has been having an affair with her mother.
With a sublime soundtrack by Simon And Garfunkel, this black-comedy masterpiece plays out famously with Braddock gate-crashing a wedding to win the love of his life back at the altar. Against all odds, she actually runs off with him, proving that infidelity, even if it involves someone sleeping with a member of your family, can be forgiven in cinema.
Thelma And Louise (1991)
“You get what you settle for.” – Louise Sawyer
In the end, friendship is the way to truly survive a relationship melt down. There is no better movie that represents this than Ridley Scott’s Thelma And Louise. This is the ultimate buddy-road movie, as Thelma (Geena Davis) fed up with her controlling husband is taken away for a weekend vacation by her best friend Louise (Susan Sarandon). No sooner had the best friends set off in their monster Ford Thunderbird than they are wanted for murder, chased by the FBI and flat to the mat speeding to Mexico. It should be noted though Thelma does manage a romp with a very young Brad Pitt along the way. The ending is both awe-inspiring and devastating. It proves once and for all that the love of friendship is worth dying for.