On my second date with my future wife, at one of those basement cocktail bars that are so ostensibly cool they don’t have a sign outside, we talked about what which we had done on Valentine’s Day that year, which we had both spent alone. Turns out, we had chosen to spend the holidays watching the same iconic film about toxic relationships. Our mutual adoration of anti-romance movies started a now decade-long tradition of going out to eat Chinese, then watching a dark flick about dysfunctional relationships during American Hallmark holidays.
Lists like these should have rules, and ours is that the movie can’t just be about couples in love going through tough times – it needs to portray people who are poison to each other and who would be better off. separated. Without further ado, here are 10 movies that prove love doesn’t always win.
1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
Okay, so that was the movie in question. Director Mike Nichols’ 1966 adaptation of Edward Albee’s award-winning play is about an afterparty gone wrong. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor play George (a history professor) and Martha (the college president’s daughter), a miserable middle-aged couple who seem to take pleasure in hurling sharp invectives at each other. One night, Martha invites a young biology professor named Nick (George Segal) and his wife Honey (Sandy Dennis) into their home after a party, beginning a middle-of-the-night psychodrama that sees the bitter hosts gradually suck their guests off. in their maelstrom of disgust and emotional abuse. “It’s not the prettiest sight, seeing two middle-aged guys kill each other, all flushed in the face and out of breath, missing half the time,” George said at one point to their unlucky guests. Things get nastier and nastier before George and Martha finally reveal their twisted secret to Nick and Honey.
2. Blue Valentine (2010)
Without doubt one of the most moving films I have ever seen, Derek Cianfrance blue valentine has it all: a dead dog; heartbreaking, booze-soaked arguments; and a heartbroken child, all thanks to the toxic relationship between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams). The best word I could describe the experience of watching this movie is “scarring”. Gosling and Williams are magnetic as two people who nowhere belong together, but who are drawn to each other again and again in increasingly destructive ways. At the start of their dating, Dean tells Cindy, “In my experience, the prettier a girl is, the crazier she is, which drives you crazy.” Folks, that’s pretty much the emotional high point of this movie, a relentlessly dark look at alcoholism and the consequences of really bad decision-making. When you turn it off, you’ll need a stiff drink, assuming you managed to get by without it in the first place.
3. Force Majeure (2014)
This cutting Swedish dark comedy revolves around the cursed family vacation of Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and their two young children at a ski resort in the French Alps. As in The loneliest planet, the drama is sparked after a momentary but crucial act of cowardice – here by Tomas, who flees from his family when a terrifying avalanche crashes down on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace. No one is hurt in the end when the avalanche stops just short of engulfing the diners, and Tomas tries to pretend nothing happened. Ebba, however, is shocked by her husband’s instinct to abandon his family at the worst possible time. Their holidays and their wedding are going accordingly. Filled with sardonic humor, the film is nonetheless uncomfortable to watch.
4. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (1969)
Mike Nichols’ 1969 drama is more than its iconic image of Elliott Gould, Natalie Wood, Dyan Cannon and Robert Culp in bed together. A groundbreaking exploration of infidelity and polyamory, it’s also a gripping drama about two couples struggling to make sense of their own destructive appetites. Culp and Wood play Bob and Carol, who stumble upon an open marriage that their friends Ted and Alice (Gould and Cannon) initially find shocking. “Honey,” Carol says when she finds out about Bob’s affair, “you didn’t do anything terrible. You told me about it. If you hadn’t told me, it would have been cheating. ” Ted and Alice slowly discover their friends’ newfound enthusiasm for playing with the boundaries of monogamy. I won’t tell you what happens when they all climb into bed together at the end of the film, but suffice it to say that I wasn’t convinced either couple would stay out of the divorce court thereafter.
5. Marriage Story (2019)
Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s searing portrayal of a falling apart couple and its aftermath launched a million memes with the scene of Charlie (Adam Driver) hitting the wall in a heartbreaking argument with Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) . While arguing for custody of their young son Henry, Johannson delivers the film’s best line: “I can’t believe I have to know you forever!” The film’s anti-Valentine’s Day credibility is greatly enhanced by the undeniable fact that Charlie and Nicole are insufferable narcissists who both deserve to lose custody of their child. Charlie, a playwright, resents Nicole’s budding TV success in Los Angeles, and the drama revolves around the coast and the glamorous relative Henry will live with. It ends a bit better than some movies on this list, but you’ll still need a shower afterwards.
6. Certified copy (2010)
One of Iranian writer-director Abbas Kiarostami’s latest films, Certified copy is an enigma that resists easy categorization. At a book signing in Tuscany, James Miller (William Shimell) meets an unnamed woman played by Juliette Binoche, who is accompanied by her teenage son. She asks Miller to sign a few copies of her book for her, and they later bump into each other in a store, striking up a before sunrise-style ride around town. But as the film progresses, it becomes clear that there’s more to their relationship than a cute encounter. Are they really foreigners? Are they married, playing some sort of game to rekindle the lost spark of a long marriage? You feel like there’s something sad or sinister lurking around this mystery, and trying to figure out what happened will lead you down some delicious rabbit holes on the internet.
7. Shattered (2012)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul are Kate and Charlie, a young married couple who thrive on partying extremely hard in director James Ponsoldt’s character study. Kate is a kindergarten teacher who takes increasing pains to hide her hangover, and during one particularly bad fuck, she ends up smoking crack and waking up alone on the street. “When I drink, I become a completely different person,” Kate says. “And that person is an asshole.” Feeling she’s finally hit rock bottom, Kate decides to cleanse herself, and suddenly the mutual addiction at the center of their marriage is what drives them apart rather than bringing them destructively together.
8. Waves (2019)
It’s rare for a high school romance to be this dark and difficult to watch. Director Trey Edward Shults (It comes at night) never let up on the pressure in the tragic story of young couple Tyler (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and Alexis (Alexa Demie). Tyler has one of those awful fathers (Sterling K. Brown) who relentlessly nags his son to succeed. Instead of revealing a serious shoulder injury, Tyler continues to perform for the wrestling team with the help of prescription painkillers before sustaining an even more serious tear. Meanwhile, his drug addiction begins to break his relationship with Alexis. Waves part of a series of recent dramas featuring intrusive and horror scores (2021 The newbie comes to mind) that create an atmosphere of dread and unease from the first scene.
9. What Keeps You Alive (2018)
In writer-director Colin Minihan’s deliciously deranged thriller, Jules (Brittany Allen) and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) arrive at a remote cabin on a lake, owned by Jackie’s family, on their first birthday. When a childhood friend walks by and calls Jackie “Megan”, Jules is shocked to find that the love of her life has changed her name and never told her. Soon it becomes clear that Jackie is not at all who she claims to be, and with a growing sense of dread, Jules realizes that their weekend getaway might not end well at all. Minihan remains focused on Jules and Jackie for most of the time, and despite being a genre film, Allen’s performance is as heartbreaking as any romantic comedy turn. These two definitely don’t go together, and if you get to the end of the movie, you’ll understand why.
10. Midsommar (2019)
Say Ari Aster’s sequel to the horror hit Hereditary is not for all tastes is to say it lightly. A doctorate in self-involved anthropology. A student named Christian (Jack Reynor) is about to break up with his depressed girlfriend Dani (Florence Pugh) when her sister kills herself and her parents. Out of misplaced pity, he decides to let Dani go on a group trip to Sweden, where their friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) promises to show them a century-old festival in his bucolic hometown. It turns out that the “festival” is the culmination of some kind of worship ritual, and despite the increasingly ominous atmosphere, Christian sticks around to convince the town elders to let him write his essay on them. Christian is so absorbed in his academic quest that he forgets Dani’s birthday, an oversight that really come back to haunt him. Whereas Midsommar is a horror movie, the terrible relationship between Christian and Dani provides the catalyst for the action and serves as the cause for the film’s completely banana ending, so it matters.