My top 10 alternative love stories

It’s Valentines Day this week, which means that the theme of this week’s top 10 is obviously love but since I am a bit of a cynic I have to admit that most Hollywood love stories do very little for me. For example I thought The Notebook was one of the lamest movies I have ever seen. But… I am not completely incapable of any kind of romanticism or unaware that love is one of the most important story themes throughout human history. So this week I am having a look at my favourite off beat movies about love. [WARNING SOME SPOILERS]

258Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Starring: Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey
The quirk: The main couple have parted and one has already had their mind cleared of all recollection of the relationship while the other is going through the process. The story is told out of order and explores whether love is worth the pain the inevitably comes with it.
“Joel: I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will. You know, you will think of things. And I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me.
Joel: Okay.
Clementine: [pauses] Okay.”

Harold-and-Maude-2Harold and Maude (1971)
Starring: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort
The quirk: We’ve seen a fair few May-December romances with an older male partner but Harold and Maude is the only onscreen love story I have ever seen with such a large age gap where the female partner is older.
“Harold: Maude?
Maude: Yeah?
Harold: [pulls the stamped coin from the arcade out of his pocket] Here.
Maude: A gift!
[reads the engraving]
Maude: “Harold loves Maude.”… and Maude loves Harold. This is the nicest gift I’ve received in years.
[she throws the stamped coin into the water]
Harold: [gasps, bemused]
Maude: So I’ll always know where it is.

f5e04d06b561b54c749e3048bf058affRuby Sparks (2012)
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
The quirk: Calvin writes Ruby, his perfect partner into life and then realises he can continue to control and rewrite her as the relationship continues
“Calvin Weir-Fields: This is the true and impossible story of my very great love. In the hope that she will not read this and reproach me, I have withheld many telling details: her name, the particulars of her birth and upbringing, and any identifying scars or birth marks. All the same, I cannot help but write this for her, to tell her “I’m sorry for every word I wrote to change you, I’m sorry for so many things. I couldn’t see you when you were here and, now that you’re gone, I see you everywhere.” One may read this and think it’s magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, “That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination.” I am no J.D. Salinger, but I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her.

closerCloser (2004)
Starring: Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Jude Law, Julia Roberts
The quirk: Infidelity, cruelty and depression abound as these four people destroy themselves and each other all in the name of trying to find real connection.
“Larry: I know who you are. I love you. I love everything about you that hurts.

annie-hall1Annie Hall (1977)
Starring: Diane Keaton, Woody Allen
The quirk: For Annie and Alvy love is not enough to overcome all their neuroses and all the things that they think love should be, when they should be focusing on how they actually feel about each other.
“[Alvy and Annie are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]
Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

500-days-of-summer-poster(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Starring: Zoe Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The quirk: The story is told out of sequence with a real gender role reversal as he is the hopeless romantic and she is the cynic who doesn’t want to be tied down
“Narrator: This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie ‘The Graduate’. The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent’s marriage she’d only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she is who he has been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.

Conversation(s) avec une femmeConversations with Other Women (2005)
Starring: Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter
The quirk: As two unnamed guests at a wedding flirt with each other it becomes evident that they have a past together, one that it will be hard to completely abandon.
“Man: If I told you I still loved you, that I always loved you, that I loved you to distraction, would you leave him?
Woman: No.

A-Single-Man-319A Single Man (2009)
Starring: Colin Firth and Julianne Moore
The quirk: George is desperately unhappy after the sudden death of his lover but that doesn’t stop his female best friend, Charley from hoping she might have a chance with him.
“George: You know that only thing that has made the whole thing worthwhile has been those few times that I was able to truly connect with another person.

120803011236-celeste-and-jesse-forever-movie-story-topCeleste and Jesse Forever (2012)
Starring: Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg
The quirk: Although Celeste and Andy seem like the perfect couple, it is only when they split up that Celeste realises she might be the worst thing that ever happened to Jesse.
“Celeste: Now I know why you fucking cry all the time. This shit’s emotional.”

1secretaryL_350x250Secretary (2002)
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader
The quirk: After being released from a mental institution, shy, fragile Lee finds herself and love after her boss introduces her to BDSM.
“Lee: In one way or another I’ve always suffered. I didn’t know why exactly. But I do know that I’m not so scared of suffering now. I feel more than I’ve ever felt and I’ve found someone to feel with. To play with. To love in a way that feels right for me. I hope he knows that I can see that he suffers too. And that I want to love him.

36 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen all of these, but I agree on the one I have. Especially Eternal Sunshine, one of my all time favorite films.

    1. Abbi

      It’s a great film. I definitely prefer a more in depth look at the mechanics of love than the cheesy Hollywood take.

  2. Superb list, Abbi! I loved A Single Man, such a stylish movie. And Ruby Sparks, Closer, Annie Hall and (500) Days of Summer are among my favorite movies.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Interesting choices, Closer featured some great acting from the four main stars.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! Closer is one of those movies that really depressing but still kind of awesome.

  4. I am apparently behind on alternative love stories…Of these, I’ve only seen 500 Days of Summer! Whoops. Love that one though!

  5. What a great list! Your list would be mine 🙂

    1. Abbi

      Yay! Glad you liked it!

  6. Love Annie Hall, Harold and Maude, and Eternal Sunshine, cool post!

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I’m not crazy about the formulaic Hollywood ones. I always prefer a more unusual love story.

      1. Agreed, glad you didn’t put When Harry Met Sally… yes it is good, but I am tired of people mentioning that one. Although I do like Sleepless in Seattle (don’t laugh).

  7. Another great list! I loved Harold and Maude, Eternal Sunshine and Secretary and while I thought Closer was good, I’m not sure I could use the word ‘enjoy’. I also loved 500 Days of Summer but have gone off it a bit since seeing Zooey whatsherface in some other things. I find her very annoying. But Joseph GL is so good he compensates for it. Haven’t seen the others but will keep this list in mind if they’re on TV in future.

    1. Abbi

      Yeah Zooey is a little bit too everywhere, isn’t she? Love Joe GL, he’s like a sweet, dopey puppy.

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