Staying in for Valentine's? Here's ten films that show love ain't all that
Valentine’s Day often calls for a date night trip to the cinema, but you might want a break from all the schmaltzy romance that’s in the air at this time of year. Either that, or you may have grown bored of films where getting married guarantees a happy ending and the unfaithful are dutifully forgiven. Feeling uninspired and unloved? Here’s a crop of movies that show love’s nasty underbelly.
Double Indemnity (1944) Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G Robinson Written and directed by Billy Wilder, this is a great vintage film. Set in 1938, this quintessential film noir is about a married woman and her insurance salesman lover, who plot to kill her husband to get a pay-out.
She-Devil (1989) Meryl Streep, Roseanne Barr, Ed Begley Jr Any film with a cast like this is worthy of a watch – even if it is just to have a giggle at the 1980s fashion. In this comedy, Barr plays housewife Ruth who works hard to keep a happy home, but when her novelist husband has an affair with attractive and successful Mary Fisher (Streep), she seeks revenge, quickly turning from doting housewife to one rather crazy lady on a mission.
Husbands and Wives (1992) Mia Farrow, Woody Allen, Sydney Pollack, Judy Davis Directed by Woody Allen and starring his then partner Mia Farrow, this is a study into how the disintegration of a friend’s relationship can make you re-examine your own, and with devastating consequences. Allen plays Gabe, who is married to Judy (Farrow). When their friends announce they are separating, the cracks in Gabe and Judy’s own marriage begin to show.
Fatal Attraction (1987) Glenn Close, Michael Douglas This thrilling psychological drama brought a new word into the relationship lexicon – the term Bunny Boiler was born after a scene in this film where Glenn Close’s character, Alex, unable to let go of her married lover, kills his daughter’s pet rabbit by boiling it on the stove. That’s certainly an interesting way to gain someone’s affections.
We Won’t Grow Old Together (Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble) (1972) Marlène Jobert, Jean Yanne You can’t get a more unromantic film title than this; it breaks all of Cupid’s little arrows in half and pops the romantic bubble. The French film explores the six year-long affair of 24 year-old Catherine and 40 year-old married Jean as they continually break-up and reconcile, until Catherine learns to assert herself.
War of the Roses (1989) Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas Directed by and starring Danny DeVito, this is a dark comedy about a couple in the midst of messy and miserable divorce. The Roses, Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner), push each other to the brink. Feisty Barbara files for divorce after discovering her financial independence and she wants the house – but it’s not going to be a clean fight.
Revolutionary Road (2008) Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet Directed by Sam Mendes and based on the 1961 novel of the same name, this film won Kate Winslet a Golden Globe for her turn as housewife April Wheeler. Young and idealistic, she is married to Frank (DiCaprio). Everything seems perfect – big house in a Connecticut suburb and two children – but underneath they’re not happy, and a trip to Paris sees the relationship unravel. Winslet split with real-life husband Mendes after the film was released, funnily enough.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine, Michael Madsen This is the ultimate bride’s revenge flick. With Tarantino writing and directing it is, of course, a violent rollercoaster. Thurman’s character, known as The Bride, wakes up from a four-year coma to find that the baby she was carrying gone and her groom murdered by a violent ex, Bill. Does she descend into hysteria and accept her lonely fate? No. She gets revenge.
American Beauty (1999) Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning Lester and Carolyn Burnham (Spacey and Benning) look like the middle-class, suburban poster couple for happiness. But underneath all the thinly veiled perfection, Lester is suffering a depressing mid-life crisis that sees him become obsessed with his daughter’s teenage friend.
The Break-Up (2006) Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn This anti-rom com sees a couple that were once happy, descend into sour squabbling, which eventually snuffs out any remaining spark the pair had. The couple call it quits in this battle of the exes but are still living in the same house, and the battle for the condo ensues to the bitter end.