If you’re thinking about watching a movie with your significant other for Valentine’s Day, you might want to steer clear of these 10 mood-ruining, unromantic movies that make love look like torture or are just generally depressing. If you want your Valentine’s Day to turn into a horrifying conversation along the lines of “what if we turn into those people?” or overall crying about the awful state of the universe, then feel free to turn on one of these films. If you’re a bitter single who wants to be reminded how bad being in a couple can be, then this list could make for an anti-Valentine’s marathon.
This 1963 film from French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard is a complicated reference to classic literature from Homer and Dante as well as an examination of a disintegrating marriage that draws from what he was going through with his wife, French actress Anna Karina, at the time. A novelist and playwright named Paul is hired to rework the script for a film version of Homer’s Odyssey, meanwhile his relationship with his wife Camille, played by Brigitte Bardot, falls apart. As Camille’s contempt for her husband becomes more apparent, she’s driven into the arms of the movie’s playboy producer with Paul almost encouraging her to go so he can get rid of her. Even that famous nude scene of Bardot’s exquisite body doesn’t feel all that sexy unless you watch it on mute.
“There’s an old joke that’s designed to be funny ha-ha for men but is, I suspect, only bitterly funny for most women: ‘Show me the most beautiful woman in the world, and I’ll show you the guy who’s tired of fucking her,’” Village Voice critic Stephanie Zacharek begins her review of the movie marking its 50th anniversary.
2. Sid and Nancy
Alex Cox’s biopic of the Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious and his groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen gives one of the most cited examples in rock and roll history of a girl coming along and ruining everything for a band that had unfathomable potential. It’s also a look at the devastating effects of heroin addiction and how easily addiction can become mistaken for love in a relationship between addicts. Gary Oldman gives a landmark early performance as the dopey, careless face of punk Sid Vicious in this 1986 cult classic that’s totally worth watching for any music fan, just maybe not with your s.o. on Valentine’s Day.
3. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The 1954 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor removed much of the homosexual undertones present in the play, but you’ll still get the picture of Brick and Maggie’s repressed Southern marriage. Brick spends most of his time drinking, fantasizing about his glory days as a young athlete, and resisting his wife’s advances, while the rest of his family makes snide remarks about why they don’t yet have children. As the drama unfolds, we find out that Brick and Maggie are both bitter and guilty over a deceased “friend” of Brick’s who committed suicide. All that sexual frustration might put you in the mood, but it’s mostly very depressing.
Danish provocateur Lars von Trier made one of the most daring and dark movies to come out last year. The director touted the two-part Nymphomaniac as one of the most sexually explicit movies ever made and even insinuated that some of the sex in it was not simulated. The film tells the story of a young woman, played at varying ages by Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who has her life dictated and destroyed by her sex addiction. After a kind man finds her beaten and bleeding on the ground, he brings her back to his apartment and as a kind of reward for that kindness Gainsbourg tells him her sexual history that brought her to that point. It might be sexy at times, but it’s not romantic.
5. Blue Valentine
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this movie has “Valentine” in the title or two super attractive stars, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. This drama from Derek Cianfrance is a heart-wrenching look at what happens when love goes sour. Flipping back and forth between when the pair fell in love and quickly wed to a few years later when the relationship has become a living nightmare, this movie can make any happy couple question whether they too might someday hate each other with that much ferocity.
Slant Magazine’s review breaks down one scene that tells you exactly why you don’t want to watch this on Valentine’s Day or with someone you love in general ever probably: “There’s one moment where Dean is at the height of his vulnerability — pleading for sex — and Cindy laughs him off. This is a dangerous sort of moment for an actor that’s easy to overplay, but Williams delivers with a precision that’s frankly chilling: You see her own shock at her contempt (she’s breaking her own heart, in addition to Dean’s). Every sexually active human being, if they’re honest with themselves, has had to bear this kind of deflating humiliation, and Cianfrance, to his credit, understands that both lovers are sharing this humiliation.”
6. Rosemary’s Baby
There’s no film that makes the idea of starting a family less appealing than Roman Polanski’s satanic masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby. Mia Farrow plays the naive Rosemary, who moves into a strange apartment building in New York with her struggling actor husband. The place has some bizarre vibes early on, though when the husband’s career turns around and he suggests they try and have a baby, she decides to go along with the idea. It turns out to be a really bad one, as the entire apartment building is filled with the members of a satan-worshipping cult and the baby ends up being the spawn of the devil.
7. Gone Girl
This was the anti-marriage movie of 2014. I’ll try not to give away any spoilers here, even though this movie and the book it was based on have both been so widely talked about that the twist is almost common knowledge. Protagonists Amy and Nick have the most screwed up marriage one could possibly imagine, complete with adultery, kidnapping, murder, and lies piled on top of lies. The only redeeming quality to their relationship is knowing that at least because they’re stuck with each other they’re not married to anyone else. These two thoroughly deserve each other. Philadelphia Weekly called it a “pitch-black satire of modern marriage.”
8. The Fly
David Cronenberg’s 1986 sci-fi horror classic The Fly shows that love just can’t withstand weird genetic mutations caused by a massive amount of scientific hubris. Jeff Goldblum’s character falls in love with Geena Davis, who plays a journalist agreeing to document his groundbreaking teleportation discoveries. But when he makes the risky decision to teleport himself and a fly is accidentally in the machine with him, Goldblum slowly turns into a human-fly monster that not only grows less human by the day but also is going completely insane. Davis is forced to get an abortion to avoid giving birth to a fly creature and eventually has to kill her mutant lover.
9. Requiem for a Dream
Like Sid and Nancy, here’s another movie that shows love just can’t conquer drugs. Darren Aronofsky’s film follows protagonist Harry, played by Jared Leto, and the people in his life who are all devastated by drugs. Harry and his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) and his best friend (Marlon Wayans) are all heroin addicts who believe that dealing will grant them the money to achieve their dreams. Meanwhile Harry’s mother becomes addicted to amphetamines in an attempt to lose weight. It all ends very, very badly as Harry has delusional dreams of the happy life he and his love could have had if the heroin hadn’t gotten in the way.
10. What’s Love Got to Do With It?
While tempestuous artistic partnerships can be very romantic, there’s nothing less romantic than domestic violence. Ike and Tina Turner are nobody’s role model couple and this acclaimed biopic is more about the liberation of escaping an abusive partnership than the great art that came from that partnership during the good times. This is an acclaimed biopic with great turns from Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as the golden couple of R&B, but it might not be the best music biopic to watch on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps go with Walk the Line instead.
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