Valentine’s Day, with its deluge of all things pink and red, invites us to ponder the elusive bonds of love and attraction, lasting or fleeting, durable or fragile, which bring us together for a moment, a lifetime, or never at all.
Here are some categories of great films that depict relationships and love in its various forms and stages. The lessons and experiences they depict include love found, won, and lost, as well as sacrifice, loyalty, and bonds that never die.
Sometimes love teaches us to let go, other times to hang on. Sometimes, it teaches us to practice more patience, at other times it call us to show honesty. Wherever you are in a relationship as Valentine's Day approaches, some great film will speak to you.
The old adage—opposites attract—certainly lends itself to humor on screen and worthwhile challenges in relationships. Unlikely pairs are drawn together to teach us refinement, to create balance, to discern the quality you love in your partner, and to learn to accept those which are foreign to us.
As in these films, sometimes opposites last and sometimes they don't, but in either case the journey through intimacy and friendship is memorable.
Ending happily ever after are “Moonstruck,” “The African Queen,” and ”Grease." Those just ending include “The Way We Were,” “Annie Hall,” “Westside Story,” and “Harold and Maude.”
On the subject of endings, the following films illustrate the need and process of letting go: “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” “Love Story,” “Ghost,” and “(500) Days of Summer.”
Holding on to a relationship, on the other hand, can require courage and fortitude. Films that depict an evolving and enduring relationship, spanning over many years are illustrated beautifully in “The Notebook,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and “Same Time Next Year.”
The inexplicable bonds which draw us to someone or to a similar type over again are explored with clever and inventive perspectives in “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind,” “What Dreams May Come,” and “Deja Vu.”
Sometimes love cannot be fully realized, and then tension and the longing can be powerful, palpable, and elegant. In our society which desires immediate gratification, we may have lost the values of propriety, restraint, or simply doing the right thing.
The following films are exquisite examples of a love that is not acted upon: “Remains of the Day,” “In the Mood For Love,” “Bridges of Madison County,” and last but certainly not least, “Casablanca.”
Other cupid-struck films are noteworthy. In “Amélie,” once Amélie commits to other people’s happiness, she can embrace her own. This is a film about a romance with life. “50 First Dates” is surprisingly sweet film about human frailties and a love that conquers all. “Before Sunrise” is the sublime first and only encounter between a couple who will meet again for a 10-year reunion in the the sequel “Before Sunset.”
Other films of note include: “Rob Roy,” one that is no chick flick, but does show a man’s chivalry to protect his wife’s honor and family’s safety. His wife, meanwhile endures silent pain in order to protect her beloved husband. “Lars and the Real Girl” is a tender story of an emotionally scarred man’s path to true intimacy and connection through, albeit, very unconventional means. “Sabrina” is a comedy of sheer old-fashioned charm and whimsy.
Happy Valentine's Day!