11 Valentine’s Day movies for sad people


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This article was originally published in 2019 and is being reposted ahead of Valentine’s Day.

It’s time to accept the truth we’ve all known for a long, long time: Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone. Only people in relatively fresh romantic relationships who are still absolutely obsessed with each other are able to put on their blinders and fully indulge in hugs, candy, and cards. They can watch romantic comedies and laugh and enjoy it. They can’t feel a vague throbbing pain every time they pass the red and pink aisle of the supermarket every February.

But what about…literally everyone? When you’re terminally single, going through a painful breakup, or you’re with someone you’d rather not be with, any reminders of other people’s cute, honeyed love can be a little too much to bear. . So how can you celebrate February 14 while acknowledging the painful truth most of us know: love is fleeting, devastating, and sometimes just plain mundane?

With the anti-Valentine films, of course. The following films each deal, in their own way, with the darker side of love and relationships and will comfort you in knowing that if you are not enthusiastic about love and romance, you are absolutely not only.

Imagine a couple leaving the cinema in 2014 after seeing missing girl a mediocre date night. Are they holding hands? Laughing in the back of a taxi? Or do they stare out the window, lamenting that they never got together in the first place and fearing the other has Amy-esque plans for their future? Gillian Flynn’s story of marital tedium — and then revenge — is every couple’s worst nightmare. Told in David Fincher’s distinctive style, Amy Dunne fakes her own death in an effort to frame her husband for her murder after he cheats on her. But that’s not the worst part: after all that, after Amy’s monologues about his terrible horror and after leading him on a dark treasure hunt, after murdering a man and showing up covered in blood at Nick’s door – the ending clues to the chilling prospect of staying together. (Available to watch on Hulu.)

No matter how your last relationship went, there will be some memories etched in your brain. A pleasant walk on the beach, a Sunday morning in bed, a screaming fight at Ikea. These memories will come back to haunt you long after the relationship has reached its bitter end, well past the point where they’re fun to talk about – and on Valentine’s Day, you’ll probably be more haunted by them than ever! What if you could…not be? In Michel Gondry’s sci-fi romance flick, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet have the opportunity to completely erase their memories of each other. Seeing their relationship fall apart is depressing, but seeing them reunite is… kinda heartwarming? Anyway, the technology is unfortunately not there yet. (Available to watch on Peacock.)

In the Spike Jonze movie in 2013, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who writes personal letters for strangers for a living, finds himself falling in love with an artificially intelligent personal assistant (Scarlett Johansson) who he thinks loves him right away. It’s a haunting rumination on how far we’ll fool ourselves for love. Is your Alexa, chirping in the background right now to remind you to buy toilet paper, actually your wife? She is not. What if she was? Theodore falls into a thrilling romance only to discover in a heartbreaking moment that Samantha loves hundreds of other users too. His delves into the reality of intimacy – what do we want? Who do we want it from? Can we be truly intimate if all of our interactions are mediated by technology? (Available to rent on Amazon.)

What’s better than watching a couple’s relationship grow and then fall apart through song? Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have been comedic gold together (see: crazy and stupid love) but in The Earth, things take a pretty depressing turn when they fall in love, try to follow their dreams, and then achieve them – but get lost in the process. In one particularly heartbreaking scene, Mia and Sebastian cross paths years after the fact…and, if somehow you haven’t seen the movie yet, we’ll let you find out what happens for yourself- same. (Available to watch on Cinemax.)

It is whispered that His is a response to Lost in translation, the 2003 film written and directed by Spike Jonze’s ex-wife, Sofia Coppola, who was reportedly inspired by their marriage (to Jonze portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi). If that’s true, that’s pretty cutting. In the film, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) and Bob (Bill Murray) become friends in Tokyo when they both suffer from insomnia in the same hotel. They share personal details before they fight when Charlotte hears another woman in her bedroom. When Bob leaves, he shares a kiss with Charlotte on the street and, in a somewhat iconic ending, whispers something in her ear – something the audience doesn’t hear. lost in translation is depressing, but if you’re sad this Valentine’s Day, just be thankful your ex isn’t able to make some scathing art about you. (Available to watch on Amazon.)

Many of these movies are science fiction, in part because there’s nothing scarier than when filmmakers take the anxieties that already plague our daily lives and imagine how even more terrifying things would be. if there was the technology to make them even worse. In Never let Me Go, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield play clones destined to die in early adulthood, once their organs are ripe for harvesting for medical purposes. Tommy (Garfield) and Ruth (Knightley) are in a relationship, in part because the clones have been told that couples in love can “defer” their gifts. But years later, Ruth admits she never liked Tommy at all. At one point, in a voiceover, Carey Mulligan reminds us that “we are all complete” – cloned language to die for. What could be better on Valentine’s Day than a reminder that we never get what we want, all love is doomed and we’re all going to die? (Available to rent on Amazon.)

As we learned from missing girl, there’s nothing more terrifying than the idea that two people who absolutely should part ways will be bound by a helpless child. In blue valentine, The relationship between Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) crumbles during a story that delves into different eras of their relationship. We see them meet, fall in love, and raise a child that isn’t Dean’s. Dean struggles with alcohol abuse, their dog dies, they have a really dark “romantic getaway” at a motel. As if all that wasn’t depressing enough, the film ends with a reminder of their love: photos of their romance, illuminated by fireworks. (Available to watch on HBO Max.)

Many movies on this list feature Carey Mulligan or Ryan Gosling, in part because they’re both so good at conveying the saddest of emotions with little more than their eyes. An education sees a young Mulligan fall in love and embark on a journey with an older man who takes her home one day after school. They travel together in a dark nod to Lolita, arguing in hotel rooms until she loses her virginity to him – ultimately letting her believe she’s special to him. What ends up happening is an emotional punch that is devastating and unfortunately all too real. It’s a lot to put up with on Valentine’s Day, but we think you can handle it. (Available to rent on Amazon.)

Some of these movies deal with alternate realities, and that, to some extent, can ease the stomach for the horrific relationships they portray and their gruesome results. But Phone, Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate’s first film together since 2014’s Perfect Obvious child, deals with the bloody realities we already have to live in. Jenny Slate’s character, Dana, starts sleeping with an ex because, quite simply, her husband is boring and Nate isn’t. Simultaneously, she discovers that her father had an affair with someone who is not her mother. Things escalate, and although she reconciles with her husband, it’s a chilling story that’s as old as time but no less terrifying for her: what if the person next to you, dozing in all safety in bed, is actually really boring? What if you weren’t satisfied with someone sweet and kind who makes you happy? What if they think the same? Anyway, sleep well. (Available to watch on Amazon.)

Many of these films address the fact that marriage can be difficult and boring. Boredom pushes you to splurge: in The children are fine Jules (Julianne Moore), after finding her and his wife Nic’s (Annette Bening) sperm donor, begins an affair with him (Mark Ruffalo). They have the darkest midday sex ever, pale bodies slamming together in a mid-shot that sticks in your brain. While the realities of marital breakdown and disagreements in parenting are miserable enough on their own, in The kids are fine this misery is only compounded by the implication that if you date a bisexual woman, she will end up cheating on you! (Available to watch on Peacock.)

Forbidden or restricted love, plus a “right person, wrong time” plot, can be the saddest thing of all. At Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) begin a romance as they work together herding sheep in the mountains. But it’s the 1960s and their love is taboo – they both end up marrying women but, over time, become miserable in their respective marriages and meet regularly to rekindle their love. Things get tragic from there, and the line “I wish I knew how to leave you” can still bring tears to the eyes — just like a closet full of an ex-lover’s shirts. (Available to watch on Amazon.)

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