Film Review: 8 Alternative Films to Watch This Valentine's Day

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It's not that I'm against soppy love stories or brain-dead romantic comedies but more that I like my love a little strange. With it being Valentine's and all, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some of my favourite alternative romantic movies...

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A comic-book nerd and Elvis fanatic, Clarence (Christian Slater), falls in love with a prostitute named Alabama (Patricia Arquette). He decides that the pair are to run off in the sunset together but has to break the news to her pimp (Gary Oldman) first - naturally, it does not end well. Mistakenly grabbing a suitcase of cocaine instead of clothing on his way out the door, the two hit the road for California but the mob is not far behind them.

With direction by Tony Scott, a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and an outstanding, star-studded cast, it's no surprise that True Romance makes for such good viewing. This action-packed, beautifully stylized romance is ultimately thrilling and even sees cameos from Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer. With Tarantino having a role in the making of the film, there is, of course, strong violence, scenes of drug use and other adult themes but it makes for one hell of a ride with love at the centre.

Lily (Loren Horsley), is a socially awkward fast-food waitress with a crush on regular customer, Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) - an equally oddball video-game clerk. Having ceased the opportunity to get his attention at a costume party, the pair dives head first in to a relationship but Jarrod is not exactly what Lily expected. Gearing up for his ultimate revenge against a high-school bully, Jarrod unexpectedly dumps Lily but, she digs her heels in and refuses to give up the fight. In doing so, she finds a side of herself she never knew existed.

Eagle Vs. Shark is a quirky romance unlike anything you've ever seen. Filled with dry, kiwi-humour, kooky characters and stop motion sequences, it is certainly unique. If you like New Zealand comedy series, Flight of the Conchords, and vampire mock-doc, What We Do In the Shadows (Taika Waitit, 2014), you'll adore this wonderfully weird and pretty rom-com.

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An extremely fragile and shy Lars (Ryan Gosling) finds it impossible to socialize with even his family. Living alone in his brother's (Paul Schneider) converted garage, his sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) worries about his exclusion from the outside world. Much to her surprise, Lars announces an online girlfriend, a life-size 'real doll' named Bianca. Taking the advice of a doctor (Patricia Clarkson), his family and the rest of the community go along with his delusion in the hopes Lars will find real happiness.

If you ever had any doubts about Gosling's acting ability, this is just one example showcasing his outstanding method performances. At times, this film is both hilarious and heartbreaking but, ultimately, it is a tale of embracing mental illness, love and acceptance. Well worth a watch!

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A nobody guitarist for a garage-rock band, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) usually has young girls queuing up to be his girlfriend. However, when Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a delivery girl with multi-coloured hair, skates into his heart, this proves much more difficult. If Scott is to win her hand, he must first defeat an army of seven evil exes who will stop at nothing to eliminate Scott from Ramona's list of suitors.

Based on the comic book series and directed by Edgar Wright, you can, of course, expect two solid hours of nostalgia, witty humour and artistic licence. As Wright's first major block buster, it may not have taken home the big bucks at the box office but it's certainly become a cult classic amongst his loyal fans and comic book nerds alike. The cast is made up of talented, later Oscar nominated actors including Anna Kendrick and Jason Schwartzman, and even features a very talented Brie Larson in one of my favourite film musical numbers. If you're looking for an unusual yet amusing tale of boy meets girl, this is the film for you.

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12 year old Mathilda (Natalie Portman) has already experienced the darker side to life; her abusive, drug storing father, her interactions with corrupt police officers, and her neglectful mother. Following the horrific murder of her family by DEA agent Stansfield (Gary Oldman), Mathilda is forced to hide at a neighbours house. Here, she meets Léon (Jean Reno), a quiet man who keeps to himself but who also works as a hired hitman for mobster Tony (Danny Aiello). Learning of his occupation, Mathilda joins forces with a reluctant Léon to learn his deadly trade and avenge her family's deaths.

Whilst Léon is not a film about romantic love, it is still a tale of a beautiful and loving, plutonic relationship. Léon, although a skilled and dangerous hitman, likes the simple things in life and, as their relationship develops, it becomes clear that his mind is like that of an adolescent. Unlike Léon, Mathilda is determined to grow up as fast as she can and, as such, sees Leon as her ticket out of childhood in this wonderfully shot, beautifully directed narrative. Not just one for Valentine's Day, Léon: The Professional is possibly my most favourite film of all time and I would urge you all to watch it.

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Following a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes an experimental procedure which erases memories from her past. But when her ex-boyfriend, Joel (Jim Carey) learns that Clementine has removed him from her memory, he undergoes the same procedure in the hopes of forgetting their rocky relationship. However, as Joel slowly begins to forget the woman that he loved, realises he doesn't want to let her go.

In true Michel Gondry style, this film comes complete with quirkey sequences, inspired by French cinema. Both Carey and Winslet give outstanding and moving performances and in this narrative which depicts the intricacy of relationships and the pain of loss in a visually stunning way we can all relate to. 

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Oliver (Craig Roberts) is an awkward Welsh teen who, like many boys his age, has one thing on his mind. Sex. He wants to lose his virginity before his 16th birthday but, more importantly, he wants a real girlfriend. He sets his sights on a feisty classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige) but with the hardships of teen life and his family life falling apart, the struggles of a real relationship become apparent. Oliver focuses, instead on holding his family together but risks losing Jordana.

Submarine is actor and comedian, Richard Ayoade's directorial debut and it does not disappoint. Each shot is visually stunning and it's narrative includes a dark yet hilarious wit unlike any coming of age dramas you may have seen previously. If you're looking for a hipster, teen comedy then this is for you.

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Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is a hopeless romantic working as a greeting card writer. He is suddenly caught off-guard when he meets the love of his life, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), at work. Following a whirlwind, storybook romance, he is completely blind-sighted when she unexpectedly dumps him with little explanation and quickly becomes engaged to someone else. As he reflects back on their 500 days together, he tries to piece together where he went wrong but in doing so, learns his opinions on love and life have changed dramatically.

If you haven't seen this by now, where have you been? I saw this at the cinema, expecting not very much and came away with a new favourite. 500 Days of Summer is both funny and heart warming but it is not a love story. A uniquely told narrative which features some great performances which fully launched Zooey Deschanel in to a mainstream fan base and made my love for Joseph Gordon-Levitt double. Furthermore, it easily has one of the best movie soundtracks to date. Go watch it.

Well, that's it for another movie list. Whether you're enjoying a night-in in peace, with friends or a partner this Valentine's Day, I hope you will enjoy one of these. What are your favourite romantic films? Have you seen any of the above? As always, I love reading your comments so please do leave them below.

Lots of hugs and kisses,



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36 comments:

  1. As a Ryan Gosling fan I adored Lars and the Real Girl, such a sweet film. I need to get my act together and watch True Romance! I love how none of your films are super cheesy! I love a bit of cheese every now and then but would much rather watch something that has more than just cheese...unless it's The Notebook and then I'm sorry but I'm all for the cheese, but Ryan Gosling probably helps with that! And The Proposal with my other fave Ryan...actually I'm pretty much confessing now to loving lots of cheese! Haha! Xx

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    1. Err sounds a lot like you love the cheesy stuff haha! Nothing wrong with that! I know, I really wanted to do a list minus any of your typical ones where they always end up together in the end. Hopefully people like these too! You definitely need to see True Romance mrs xx

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  2. I love all these movies! I'll be watching these...or perhaps horror movies.

    Jenn | Jennifer Jayne

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    1. Horror movies are awesome any time of the year! Weirdly, Valentine's always gets me in the mood for horror...x

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  3. I love Scott Pilgrim so much! It's so funny! I must watch Lars and the Real Girl, it looks really cool! I think this valentines I will be watching The Notebook, it's one of the best!!
    Fix Me In Forty Five - A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog
    Blog Lovin' // Instagram
    xx

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    1. Me too! And pretty much anything that Edgar Wright touches tbh. Lars and the Real Girl is so amazing, he's brilliant in it and it's so weird, it's hilarious. Noooo no soppy films! x

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  4. Scott Pilgrim and Leon are two of my absolute favourite films!!

    Meg | A Little Twist Of…

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    1. Mine too! Leon is so beautiful - I could watch it over and over again x

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  5. I have seen absolutely none of these, so I really love this list. I'm adding a few to my 'to-watch' list, especially Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Leon: The Professional. Such a great list! I love how they aren't your typical Vday movies, thank you Sophie!
    hellozauni.com

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    1. Aw really?? I kinda like that as I hope that it means you might watch them now haha I really hope you like them! You'll have to tell me what you make of them xx

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  6. Such a good idea! Eternal Sunshine is one of my all time favorites. 500 Days of Summer is also a goody <3 I will need to bookmark this to check out the other ones :)


    Enclothed Cognition/Bloglovin

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    1. Aw mine too! It's so beautiful and Jim Carey is amazing in it (as is Kate Winslet). Yay, please do - I hope you like them :) x

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  7. Oh wow, Sophie! Eternal Sunshine, True Romance, etc. are some really big time favorites. I'll rewatch Scott Pilgrim -- the fight with Chris Evans as an arrogant actor is a lot of fun. I want to see the musical scene with Brie Larson as I don't have a clear recollection of it and I liked her performance in Room (2015). And thanks for mentioning Eagle vs. Shark and Submarine, I haven't seen those. If someone wants an anti-Valentine's Day movie, I recommend In the Company of Men (1997) starring Aaron Eckhart. I think it also works as a horror film (but the horror is more psychological). This movie could have been titled, "The Evil That Men Do", which is a title of a Charles Bronson film.

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    1. Aw great, I'm so glad! You'll have to let me know what you think of them. Eagle vs Shark is made by one of my favourite directors and Submarine is made by one of my most favourite humans :)

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  8. lovely blog :)
    I follow you :)

    http://itsmetijana.blogspot.rs/

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  9. Absolutely love this post! I love 500 days of summer!

    www.ohsobecky.com

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    1. Me too - so in love in Joseph Gordon Levitt in it and Zooey Deschanel is so beautiful x

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  10. A pretty good eclectic selection there. Some better than others. I will give you a few more that I feel should fit into the equation somewhere, perhaps you've already seen them or you may want to give them a squiz, but anyhoo: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Wild Strawberries, Buitiful, Life is Beautiful and for good measure, Vicky Christina Barcelona. I hope you can get to see some of these as they are just fab. I could give suggestions all day long, but I won't bore you any further. Would love to hear if you've seen them and what you thought!! Peace out! P.S also, try The Station Agent! Done

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    1. Some good choices although I'm not sure any of them are particularly Valentine's Day movies haha. Buitiful is brilliant :) I wasn't a fan of Vicky Christina Barcelona but The Station Agent is a great movie. Good to see an equally as keen film fan for sure :) thanks so much for reading

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    2. Mmm perhaps not, but thought they all were loosely based around love, loss, family and all that...

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    3. I suppose so, I see what you're getting at :)

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  11. Sunshine and 500 Days of Summer are two of my favourite films of all time and I agree that they're great alternative films for V's Day. You've got such interesting selections here, Sophie! I'm defo putting Scott Pilgrim onto my to watch list!

    May | THE MAYDEN | bloglovin'

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    1. Yay! Thanks so much - just to warn you, Scott Pilgrim is pretty weird haha. I love 500 days of Summer - the bit where he looks in the car window and sees himself as Han Solo and then does the whole dance routine is one of my favourite film scenes ever! x

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  12. ive only seen 500 days of summer! Really wanna watch the other ones now too :p
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

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    1. Seriously? You definitely need to fix that haha I hope you like them! 500 days of Summer is great though :) x

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  13. Great choices Sophie!
    I am getting fed up of all the cheesy Valentines posts as my partner and I don't celebrate it. Instead we choose our own personal days to spoil each other later in the year.

    Jenna
    | princessparasox.wordpress.com | bloglovin' |

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    1. No i know what you mean - not in to all the cheesy stuff! I like a clever film with a good story :) Aw that's such a lovely idea! I love that x

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  14. Leon is literally one of my favourite films of all time, it's just so good! xx

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    1. Mine too! It's probably my favourite of all time tbh :) x

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  15. Another great post my fellow film buff! I really need to watch Lars, I love Submarine so much. The book is even better.

    www.cattitudeandco.uk

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    1. Aw you know me, I've never read the book haha. Thanks hun - i loved your list too! xx

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  16. I've actually not seen any of these except for Scott Pilgrim and Leon. I will definitely have to check them out, you've sold them to me! Also I'm new to your blog and I am loving it! :)

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    1. Aw I'm so glad you like it :) thanks for reading it! You'll have to let me know what you think of them x

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  17. I must see Submarine now!!! I'm so glad you reminded me of True Romance - I love that film! My boyfriend and I watched it on a plane ride once and we both thought the other was seeing it for the first time, and we were like "Wait, YOU love this movie? I love this movie!" it was hella cute and now I always tell him "You're so cool" like our little inside joke!! Great post!!

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    1. Aw it's awesome, you'll love it! Ha True Romance is one of my favouritest films ever. That's so adorable haha xx

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