Valentine's Movie Suggestions

Looking for a good movie for your Valentine's plans? I've got another list of non-traditional 'romance movies' to consider. I'm not your typical romantic and I tend toward things that are just a little off the beaten track. Here are my suggestions of movies that I think are romantic, but don't follow the mold of most romantic movies.

On Gold Pond - this is an oldie but a goodie. Featuring two of my absolute favorite actresses - Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. This movie gives us a glimpse of what true love might look like when it gets very old. It's lovely to see two older adults still very much in love and connected to each other - all the while being painfully aware of each other's faults It's also an interesting look at difficult child/parent relationships - how we can hold love, frustration, anger, and disappointment with our parents all at the same time. Be warned, it's a tearjerker!

Phildelphia - okay - this is not a romantic movie. But it is an excellent one and it does show a lot of love - mostly between Tom Hank's main character and his partner, played by Antonio Banderas. While the main plot of the movie deals with discrimination in the workplace, the movie also shows two people in love living with the knowledge that one of them is going to die.

Shortbus - again, maybe not a romantic movie, but there is so much awesome love in this film! The love comes in all kinds of forms but I was particularly struck by the depiction of a couple who love each very much, trying to find a way to deal with one partner's very serious depression and its effect on their relationship.

Love and Other Drugs - I thought this movie was going to be a behind-the-scenes look at how the pharmaceutical industry works and was, at first, disappointed to find out it's really a love story. But the love story turned out to be really great. Anne Hathaway plays a woman living with early onset Parkinson's Disease. Jake Gyllenhal plays the man that was supposed to be a one-night stand and ended up falling for her charms. The movie follows his struggle in falling for someone who has a serious illness and his attempts to save her when she has no interest in being saved. It's an unexpected treatment of the subject that I really enjoyed. PLUS there is A LOT of nudity!

All right, so I admint, looking at the above films, that perhaps this is a pretty heavy list for Valentine's Day. I admit it, I like sad, depressing movies. But if that's not your thing, here are some other non-traditional suggestions that are not sad and depressing.

My Best Friend's Wedding - here ya go! A mainstream romantic comedy. I'm not a big fan of Julia Roberts' rom-coms but I have always loved this one. This movie has an unexpected twist and lets us know that you don't always get what you want, and you don't always get the prince, and you don't always live happily ever after - and yet, that might be just fine. It also shows that the love of a true friend can be just as important as that of a lover.

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. These are some of my favorite movies ever! If you have never seen these movies, you must go watch them now. Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke star as two people from opposite side of the globe who meet by chance on a train and decide to spend a day together. It is a devastatingly sweet and bitter romance as they fall head over heels in a short period of time and decide whether they will meet again or not. The romance between them feels very real as it doesn't rely on all of the typical Hollywood tropes. Instead, the two share stories and pieces of themselves and truly connect with each other.

Before Sunset takes place nine years later (both in story time and in real time, by the way) when they meet again and look at what has happened in their lives and how it might have been different. It is absolutely beautiful. The real-time walk through the streets of Paris doesn't hurt either.

There is a third installment to this series that came out two years ago but it is not as well done and while it's worth a watch, I don't recommend it for Valentine's Day.

I know that one of the biggest, supposedly romantic movies to hit theatres this year comes out today, but, given what I know from the book it's based on, these ones are a better bet for more realistic, heartfelt, and satisfying romance.