Bridey Heing
February 12, 2015 7:30 am

Valentine’s Day is HAPPENING, and it’s time to start making plans with bae. But real talk: The whole thing can be a bit overwhelming, with all the red hearts, pressure to be super romantic, and upcharged dinners. If a quiet night at home with a bowl of popcorn and a movie is more your speed, then you’ve come to the right place! Looking for a movie suggestion that manages to tell a love story without being over-the-top schmaltzy? We’ve got you covered!

Beginners

Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is an artist struggling to get by after the death of his father, who came out of the closet after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. As he works through his grief in a series of touching flashbacks, he meets Anna (Melanie Laurent), a French actress he’s instantly drawn to despite his lingering worries about commitment. As if that weren’t enough to sway you, Oliver is helped through his questions about love and life by Cosmo, a talking terrier. The film is definitely quirky, but the style is fresh and the story is complex enough to feel more substantial than your standard rom-com.

Paris, Je T’aime

Paris is, of course, the city of love, and Paris, Je T’aime explores both the iconic city and the many meanings of the word “love.” In a series of short vignettes, each set in a different Parisian neighborhood, directors take on one micro-love story. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, and one features some wisdom from the ghost of Oscar Wilde.

The Apartment

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine star in this 1960 film about a man who lets his bosses use his apartment to have affairs. Bud (Lemmon) doesn’t realize that one of the women being taken to his apartment is Fran (MacLaine), who just happens to have caught Bud’s eye. When Bud finds out about Fran’s affair with manager Mr. Sheldrake, he tries to help her by covering up the affair and later her attempted suicide. Directed by Billy Wilder, the plot may sound heavy, but MacLaine and Lemmon carry it off with their signature humor.

The Brothers Bloom

Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, and Rachel Weisz star in this hilarious and action-packed heist movie. Steven (Ruffalo), Bloom (Brody), and their enigmatic explosives expert assistant team up to con eccentric heiress Penelope (Weisz); but after a series of mishaps have to contend with the Russian mob. Meanwhile, Bloom and Penelope fall in love, a development that further entangles the brothers in their own con. The movie is laugh-out-loud funny, and the scheming is so complex, it’s not clear who the mark actually is until the amazing twist ending.

The Shop Around The Corner

Long before You’ve Got Mail became a romantic comedy touchstone, this 1940 film directed by Ernst Lubitsch featured two people falling in love behind anonymous correspondence. Jimmy Stewart stars as Alfred Kralik, a salesman at a shop in Budapest. Margaret Sullavan stars opposite, as Klara Novak, a new employee with whom Kralik does not get along. Unbeknownst to them both, they have been communicating as anonymous pen pals for some time, and even as they drive each other insane in life, their love affair via letter continues to grow.

Me and You and Everyone We Know

This movie was Miranda July‘s directorial debut—and the artist/writer/filmmaker stars in the offbeat love story, too! Following a divorce, Richard is struggling to start up a relationship with Christine (played by July), while his sons navigate the murky waters of attraction, as well. It’s a quiet, sweet story about two people trying to work around their own sharpened edges, and the dialogue is often beautiful enough to stick with you long after the movie ends.

The Puffy Chair

The Duplass Brothers seem to be everywhere right now, and this 2005 Mumblecore classic is a great reminder as to why this duo is so deserving of their success. Mark Duplass stars as Josh, who sets out on a road trip to buy an old chair identical to the one owned by his father. But his girlfriend Emily and brother Rhett end up joining him on the journey, and all have to address their frayed relationships along the way. The portrait of a relationship at a crossroads, with Emily and Josh pulling in different directions, is moving, honest, and at times hilarious.

Only Lovers Left Alive

What’s Valentine’s Day without a great vampire movie, amirite? Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as Adam and Eve, an old married vampire couple who live apart and are struggling with their place in the world. Feeling despondent, they reunite and try to sort it all out, only to get swept up in some vampire-on-human drama with Eve’s sister Ava. Jim Jarmusch’s dark and moody love story isn’t for those who like their vampires glittering, but if you like your undead struggling with existential crises, then this is the movie for you.

The Philadelphia Story

Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart star in this classic comedy. Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, a member of one of Philadelphia’s pre-eminent families and divorcee of C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant). As her second wedding approaches, two journalists (Stewart and Ruth Hussey) arrive to cover the event and get the scoop on the private Lord family. Tracy’s ex also shows up, throwing a wrench into the works as he pokes and prods at his former-wife. The film is in turns hilarious and moving, and offers a far less starry-eyed love story than other films from the era.

Harold & Maude

This coming-of-age story is a cult classic, and with good reason. Bud Cort stars as Harold, a troubled and morbid young man trying desperately to avoid his mother’s attempts to set him up with various socialites. He meets Maude, played by Ruth Gordon, a 79-year-old eccentric who helps Harold embrace an anarchic joy and rebel against his wealthy family’s uptight normality. The movie is an imaginative exploration of the value of life and love, and the Cat Stevens soundtrack is seriously amazing!

Pierrot Le Fou

Think of this Godard New Wave classic as a French Bonnie and Clyde. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina star as outlaw lovers, trying to stay one step ahead of gangsters while on a crime spree through the French countryside and on the Mediterranean. The film is a sun drenched, brightly colored, ultimately tragic adventure, and the gorgeous co-leads are easy to fall in love with.

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