And yet again, it’s Valentine’s Day—that day of the year when it’s a little harder to ignore your loneliness. If you dare to leave your house today, get ready to be bombarded with roses, heart-shaped chocolates, flowers, and a world where everyone except you has a date.
If you, like us, are spending this night alone with your laptop, we’ve rounded up a list of movies that’ll instantly make you feel better about being single and unwanted on Valentine’s day. Whether you’re into eternal life, peep shows, or ostrich-feathered hats—below you’ll find something to your taste. At least, tonight you won’t have to pretend that you’re normal.
LE GRAND AMOUR (Pierre Étaix, 1969)
Le Grand Amour is a whimsical French comedy that’ll make you question if it’s really that much that you’re missing out on while being single on Valentine’s Day. The protagonist, Pierre, is in a full-fledged mid-life crisis: he’s increasingly disenchanted with the course his life has taken—specifically, the 15-year-long monotonous marriage with his wife Florence. But a muse appears in the shape of his young secretary, and Pierre soon surrenders to dreaming and daydreaming about her. The simple premise gets surrealistic: from then on, Pierre is driving around the town in his traveling bed, first wandering only in his fantasies, and later—well, you’ll see what’s later. His blissful fantasies are matched by ethereal music—the perfect accompaniment to the poetic dreamscapes of Pierre and fellow slumberers roving the town.
To Étaix, the surreal is always based on reality—and we can see where he’s coming from: doesn’t our own love life boil down to dreaming in bed, anyway? Pierre’s bed can at least get him to the nearest bar—to quench the thirst for love and fill the void inside. Taking its root in silent comedy, Le Grand Amour is rife with visual gags, creative sound effects, and is rather light on dialogues—though who cares, we all know, talk is cheap.
PARIS, TEXAS (Wim Wenders, 1984)
If you feel undesirable today, know that you’re not doomed: before this independent feature won unanimous critical acclaim and a ton of honors including the Palme d’Or, it was rejected by all studios. One of the best road movies ever, this masterpiece explores motifs predominant in the works of Wim Wenders—these of loneliness and isolation. In Paris, Texas, a disheveled man who wanders out of the desert, seems to have lost his memory. Shortly, it becomes clear that he’s been missing for years and has a wife and a son, with whom he’ll try to reunite.
Although in Wenders’s most recent films his take on solitude is much more optimistic and, in his own words, it’s seen ‘not as a handicap but a bliss’, this melancholic western is for those who want an introspective film to give in to the V-day blues. Although set against the vast background of Western America, this is nevertheless a contemplation of an inherently European filmmaker, whose solitary characters wander through life alone, without any kind of constancy. This movie, rest assured, will make you feel the following: it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re single today, because, in the end, you’re always alone.
DEATH BECOMES HER (Robert Zemeckis, 1992)
When two aging women discover a magic potion for eternal youth, love instantly becomes an afterthought. The elixir of youth, of course, comes with a price tag. For an hour and a half, Madeline (Meryl Streep) and Helen (Goldie Hawn) are fighting for the love of a tired plastic surgeon—Helen’s ex-fiance Ernest, who Madeline had treacherously stolen from her. In fact, this fight is not about love, as they’re only fueled by hatred—towards each other.
But finally, when they’re ready to get over Ernest, they realize they’re very much in need of him—quite likely, more than ever. And then a little obstacle comes up. The iconic duo of divas painting each other’s dead flaking bodies and giggling at the funeral will likely make you feel like Galentine’s Day is actually not that dumb of an idea. They say, self-care and self-love will get you a long way, so maybe try the anti-wrinkle lotion instead of sobbing in the dark. Besides, our paragon of wellness Goop shut down their UK branch a couple weeks ago, so better watch this movie closely, in case your turn to take the magic potion comes as well.
MEET JOE BLACK (Martin Brest, 1998)
Well, even Death got tired of work and came to Earth in search of love and feelings. In this movie, Death, who takes the form of a young man killed in an accident, asks a media mogul to act as his guide to teach him about earthly life. One of the best romantic films ever aka the movie most therapists would not approve of, this is a fantasy, in which a woman falls in love with Death—cold and emotionally unavailable. This preamble though is somewhat more promising that the situationship you still can’t leave behind, as even Death eventually starts to defrost.
Ironically, despite all that, this is the movie that makes us believe in true love and not settle for less—largely the merit of the brilliant helicopter scene starring Anthony Hopkins and Claire Forlani. We never find out if Forlani’s character is still that much in love with Death when he’s back to his sweet, human self, though hopefully, she is. Regardless, after watching this movie, you might very well enjoy your solitude and finally feel relieved about that bland romance of yours that never happened.
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER (Peter Greenaway, 1989)
Set in a gourmet restaurant Le Hollandais, this movie is a lot to swallow—both for its characters and viewers. The film builds on the darkest sides of love like jealousy, possessiveness, rage, and revenge. The wife of a greedy crime boss Georgina engages in a secretive romance with a gentle bookseller between meals at her husband’s restaurant. And, as it should be, only the cook knows what is cooking. The movie’s full of lust and gluttony—the deadly sins, for which the characters are bound to atone.
As a director, Greenaway’s a huge apologist for the power of visuals over the fable, and with its deep, scarlet hues—a nice contrast with the city turned sugary pink—the movie is a feast for eyes as well. The costumes from Jean-Paul Gaultier add to the opulence and emphasize how much Georgina is restrained—both by her tight bodysuits and the abuse. All in all, this brutal love crime drama is an overwhelming spectacle of violence, but good thing—we’re already quite numb.