Do you dream about having the sort of epic Hollywood-style romance that’s filled with adventure and huge romantic gestures? If you’re a fan of movies like The Notebook and Titanic, or even older movies like Say Anything, reality can be a sobering experience if you set your dating hopes to match the movies.
If you’re continually getting disappointed by your dates, perhaps it’s time to watch a few movies or television shows that offer a less romantic and more realistic view of modern romance. Not all of these movies are romantic comedies — and some of them are downright depressing — but they can be a welcome relief if you’re feeling burnt out on unrealistic portrayals of love and romance.
1. Lost In Translation
Starring Scarlett Johansson as the beguiling Charlotte, and Bill Murray as the charismatic Bob, Lost In Translation is a slow-moving but beautiful portrayal of two lost souls who find each other in the most unlikeliest of ways.
There are many ongoing debates among film-lovers about whether or not Lost In Translation is a love story. It’s certainly not a traditional one.
Aging film-star, Bob, runs into Charlotte, a young photographer lost in her relationship with a flourishing photographer. Alone in Tokyo, the two explore the city and form a strong – but vague – relationship. Although romance is heavily alluded too, especially in the film’s mysterious last few minutes, the pair never formalized any romantic intentions towards each other. However, Lost In Translation is a realistic depiction of two people drifting in and out of each other’s lives for a brief period of time and possibly discovering something about themselves in the process. If you’re missing travel under the COVID-19 restrictions, Lost In Translation is sure to give you a boost of wanderlust, as the dreamy visuals explore Tokoyo in lush detail.
2. 500 Days Of Summer
500 Days Of Summer is about Tom, a nerdy greeting card artist who meets Summer, the manic pixie dream girl of his dreams, played to perfection by Zooey Deschanel.
Tom is immediately besotted with Summer, and struggles to convince her that true love is real while she seems far less lacklustre about the possibility of it. The movie follows the couple through a few months of dating, although it becomes clear that Tom wants the relationship to be “something more” while Summer sees Tom as just a friend. The movie explores the heartbreak of unrequited love, and many viewers can relate (and also feel frustrated) by Tom’s attempts to woo the affections of a girl who just isn’t that interested in him.
3. High Fidelity (2020)
The original movie High Fidelity is an early 2000s classic that starred John Cusack and a star-making turn from Jack Black. But the 2022 version, starring the spellbinding Zoe Kravitz as Cusack’s Rob, is one of the greatest portrayals of dating ever to hit the small screen.
Rob is a cynical record shop owner, who can’t get over the demise of her relationship with her “Number One” heartbreak, Mac. When Mac returns to New York, newly engaged to Rob’s polar opposite Lily, Rob begins to explore her “Top Five Greatest Heartbreaks” in an attempt to nail down what went wrong in all of her romantic endeavors. As she travels down memory lane, she’s also reluctantly drawn into a romantic relationship with the hapless Clyde, who keeps trying to win over Rob’s affections — despite the fact she’s obviously still in love with her ex.
High Fidelity is a must-watch for anyone that can’t get over that one special person from their past.
4. Marriage Story
Adam Driver may be more famous for starring as Kylo Ren, the main villain from the new round of Star Wars movies, but he’s a talented and versatile actor with a gift for portraying the nuances of complicated relationships. Starring as Charlie, a man going through a turbulent divorce with his wife, Nicole, Driver brings an emotional and compelling performance that is guaranteed to make you cry at least once.
Scarlett Johansson plays his removed and emotionally distant wife, who hires an aggressive divorce attorney. The movie follows the fictional couple through the process of divorcing and offers a sad but redemptive look at the way that divorce lawyers can turn families against each other for the sake of profit.
Marriage Story isn’t a feelgood romantic movie by any means — although there are moments of humor and levity, but ultimately an incredible performance by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver make it a highly watchable movie that illuminates the heartbreak of a modern divorce and levels an especially scathing critique of opportunistic divorce lawyers. Poignant, touching, and raw, it’s a well written and thought-provoking journey through the end of a relationship.
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5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The premise of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind poses a fascinating theoretical question to viewers. If you could erase the memory (and heartbreak) of a failed relationship, would you?
Thus begins the saga of Joel, played by Jim Carrey, and Clementine, played by Kate Winslet, a couple who both attract and repel each other like rotating magnets. The film begins with the couple meeting on board a train heading to Montauk. Immediately drawn to one another, the film explores the backstory of the couple who have already been in a relationship together. After it ended, Clementine decided to have her memories of Joel wiped clean, courtesy of futuristic technology — and a company named Lacuna Corp. When Joel discovers this, he also has his memories wiped clean. The film explores the idea of whether it’s better to forget someone who you loved, if the memory of them hurts you, or if experiencing the pain of a relationship is part of the process of life.
The concept of the movie spawned from conversations between the director, Michel Gondry, and the film’s co-screenwriter, Pierre Bismuth. The pair were already friends and were discussing the idea of whether or not they would erase someone from their memory if it was possible. Apparently Bismuth had asked a female friend, who was complaining about her ex-boyfriend, if she had the ability to erase his memory from her mind, would she do it? She said yes. Bismuth had an idea to do an art exhibition, sending a card to various people saying that people they had known had them erased from their memory. Although the art exhibition never happened, this became the idea for the film.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Winslet received a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress.
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