Thought Catalog

9 Films That Try To Understand Love

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Unlike most movies concerned with love, these films attempt to get at what really goes down in relationships. Basketcase characters troubled with age gaps, loneliness, death, and mental illness offer more insight on relationships than the typical “indie quirky love” or rom com. For those who get off on realism, these onscreen relationships will make you go, “Aha! I’ve felt that before. That’s so true!”

He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (À la folie… pas du tout) (2002, dir. Laetitia Colombani)

Watch Angelique’s (Audrey Tautou) obsessive tendencies. Relate. Once the film’s point of view shifts and presents Angelique’s lover’s outlook, reevaluate crushing behavior. Walk away considering the possibility that there’s a reason you get too infatuated with people. It’s okay, you might just be crazy. Now go see a psychiatrist.

Anything Else (2003, dir. Woody Allen)

Despite Amanda Chase’s (Christina Ricci) baggage (an eating disorder and a mother who crashes at her apartment), boyfriend Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) sees past these idiosyncrasies and sincerely tries to make things work. Why’d I put this on the list and not Annie Hall or Manhattan? Because although this isn’t Allen’s best, it’s one of his few recent films that features an actress like Christina Ricci who, unlike Scarlett Johansson, isn’t the conventional Hollywood babe. Refreshing.

Closer (2004, dir. Mike Nichols)

As much as you think you love someone, overcoming sexual desire is often the true test of commitment. Lust and temptation interfere with two couples’ relationships when Dan (Jude Law), Anna (Julia Roberts), Alice (Natalie Portman) and Larry’s (Clive Owen) lives intertwine. This film hardly focuses on the lovey-dovey; it’s instead concerned with innate carnality and forbidden sex and its aftermath.

Shopgirl (2005, dir. Anand Tucker)

Mirabelle (Claire Danes), moves to Los Angeles with artistic aspirations but instead becomes a sales girl. She falls for both an older businessman, Ray Porter (Steve Martin), and an unsuccessful musician, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman). Shots of Mirabelle in her apartment capture the mundane, bleak feeling of not only living alone but of being alone. It’s nice to be reminded that life can be really boring without having someone to share it with.

Broken English (2007, dir. Zoe R. Cassavetes)

Resist making an OK Cupid account. Nora (Parker Posey), proves there’s hope for the anxious, self deprecating, and old. After terrible luck with men, Nora unexpectedly meets a younger, sexy, French man, Julien (Melvil Poupad) who she’s skeptical to open up to. Nora’s several breakdowns suggest it’s hard to maintain a stable relationship if you can’t accept yourself or the possibility of someone else accepting you. Broken English is the kick in the butt you need to stop being so down on yourself.

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    • Anonymous

      Closer ruined my lovelife.

      • Guest

        no, your lovelife is ruined by the fact that you pay too much attention to movie plots..

      • Guest

        no, your lovelife is ruined by the fact that you pay too much attention to movie plots..

      • ELLA Y

        ..why

      • guest

        That prone to influence? Scary man. By the way, I mean scary in general.

    • Anatola

      I watched Revolutionary Road the evening of a bad break-up. Bad ideas, I’m good at them.

      • DARKSTAR

         One night I stopped by my friend’s house after she broke up with her boyfriend and I was making small talk with her brother as I was leaving and told him I was going to see Revolutionary Road.  Fifteen minutes in to the movie I see her walk in to the theater.  She sits right next to me and proceeds to have a meltdown for half of the movie.  It was the worst. 

        • DARKSTAR

          WHY ARE PEOPLE SO ATTRACTED TO WATCHING THIS MOVIE AT THE MOST INAPPROPRIATE TIMES? 

        • http://www.oneyearintexas.com Perfect Circles

          They want art to imitate life instead of the other way around, for once.

        • DARKSTAR

          WHY ARE PEOPLE SO ATTRACTED TO WATCHING THIS MOVIE AT THE MOST INAPPROPRIATE TIMES? 

        • guest

          Um, one time my mom wanted to take my cousins and I to the movies and my cousins’ mother had just died of cancer and their father had remarried.  So what movie did my mother choose?  STEPMOM

          STEP
          MOM

          OMG

        • guest

          *cousins and me, me and my cousins, whatev

        • guest

          *cousins and me, me and my cousins, whatev

    • Anatola

      I watched Revolutionary Road the evening of a bad break-up. Bad ideas, I’m good at them.

    • http://twitter.com/t_baugh Travis Baugh

      no Punch Drunk Love??

    • http://twitter.com/t_baugh Travis Baugh

      no Punch Drunk Love??

    • Anonymous

      I liked the movie Love Actually. While it was a little cheerier than most of the films on this list, it did portray a wide variety of relationships, how the end, begin, or exist, and how they are sustained. Some may call it idealistic, but I thought it was a good film for showing how things can go right in life when it seems a lot is going wrong, and that relationships can work, even when they seem impossible.

    • Anonymous

      I liked the movie Love Actually. While it was a little cheerier than most of the films on this list, it did portray a wide variety of relationships, how the end, begin, or exist, and how they are sustained. Some may call it idealistic, but I thought it was a good film for showing how things can go right in life when it seems a lot is going wrong, and that relationships can work, even when they seem impossible.

    • goldinmyhead

      Revolutionary Road is probably one of the most depressing movies about love and marriage that I have ever seen. I think that movie and Closer completely changed the way I thought about marriage. 

      Shopgirl is awful.

      • Hopeful

        Is there hope really? Is monogamous fidelity a lost dream?
        It seems like too much to ask for in today’s world. Or am I wrong? I’d loved to be proved wrong, especially in the course of my life itself.

        • hopeful

          I don’t know why I posted this as a reply to your comment. :|

    • guest

      I didn’t like any of these.  GRUMP

      • guest

        Wait, I liked Rev Road.  

      • guest

        Wait, I liked Rev Road.  

    • Anonymous

      where’s Blue Valentine?

    • http://www.facebook.com/m.paigekelly Megan Kelly

      What about High Fidelity? That movie seems to go along with how a lot of people approach love. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/m.paigekelly Megan Kelly

      What about High Fidelity? That movie seems to go along with how a lot of people approach love. 

    • http://kylelamar.com/ Kyle LaMar

      Junebug.

    • Feli

      2 days in Paris makes me see everithing diferente. I’m mexican and my ex boyfriend was french. Even when we met here in Mexico he totally lost his mind when we travel to my hometown, and I better don’t talk about being in Lyon with his family and friends. We broke up two months after that trip, then I see the movie…
      BTW, sorry about my english

      • Sylvain

        it´s kind of weird date a mexican girl, I should know…

        • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

          why?

        • Sylvain

          I date twice with mexicans. The first time I was in Mexico and we start to live together inmediatly, everything with her was very intense, our times of joy were awsome, she was so cute and charming, like lo care of me. But also our fights were huge! she like to throw dishes and that kind of crazy things. She was awesome and I still love her…
          The nex time I met the girl in Canada, she was a student and we starter to see each other as an open relationship… but she didn’t understand it and when she discovered that I’m dating another girl make a biiiig drama. She is kind of crazy, and she keep on sending e-mails saying I’m her big love and once she came to France and try to meet me. I lied that time and I say I was in other place…
          So that’s my history. Now you can understand when I say it’s a weird thing date mexicans. But I also love mexicans and I like to go back there and find a gorgeous blak eyed girl.

        • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

          Hmm.. Sounds like the women you dated were.. passionate.. Maybe you go for the same type every time, I don’t know if it’s all Mexican girls that do that.
          And it has to be a black eyed girl? Haha.

    • http://www.facebook.com/seikel Steve Seikel

      HAPPINESS – Perfect Love Film guys. perfect.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkQ_JxoWUP8   

    • http://www.facebook.com/seikel Steve Seikel

      HAPPINESS – Perfect Love Film guys. perfect.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkQ_JxoWUP8   

    • JJ

      What about He’s Just Not That Into You?

      • http://twitter.com/sandraaa_xo Sandra NB

        haha many many people would benefit from seeing this. 

      • http://twitter.com/kelvin_lee Kelvin Lee

        …Seriously?

      • Anonymous

        hahahah

        NO

      • kristina

        AHAHAHA. Cute.

    • Aura Felicia Ríos Morales

      have you ever seen Los Amantes del Circulo Polar? it’s an spanish movie, and it’s also a great

    • alex

      No Before Sunrise or Before Sunset?

    • Michael Pitt

      the dreamers

    • Grant Sorenson

      A la folie…pas du tout is a brilliant movie. So, so good.

    • http://theopenend.com/ Simplicity

      I get off on realism. I get off on it so much I can’t stop myself. Why bother with anything else? speaking of anything else, ANYTHING ELSE was such a proper film. Woody Allen knows things about the soul. If you want an offscreen rec, something more literary, give AUSTIN NIGHTS by this dude named HEROCIOUS a swirl. It’ll love you back without being sweet.

    • http://twitter.com/kelvin_lee Kelvin Lee

      Really well-considered list. Not just an amorphous “films about this I like” but it’s engaging that you examined (love) through different angles with film. No one ever knows about Broken English but I think it’s such a great definition of trying to love ourselves, and others in the world today.

    • http://amateurcartographer.tumblr.com elizabeth wisker

      nice/simple/straightforward/clean style. my dad really loves a lot of the movies on this list – that’s not a negative comment, either. i respect his taste a lot; and, if not for him, i wouldn’t have watched many of them. i think you’d get along. 

    • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

      I’m watching the trailers for the ones I haven’t seen. Good material for next lonely weekend.

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