Fourteen Films for Valentines

Valentine’s Day can sometimes feel a little too commercialised for me if I’m honest. I’m not into big gestures of expensive presents and the like. A simple hand-made card or day out is much more up my street. Going out on the night itself as well as being expensive, is often hugely over-rated, with far too much pressure to have a great time. A good alternative is to cosy up and watch a great film!

That said we have two belated Valentine Treats at Northern Stage and Chaophraya Restaurant lined up for later in February which I just can’t wait for – but we won’t have the pressure of them being on Valentines Day!

So on Valentines Day itself, we’ll be staying in and watching a romantic movie. Always a good option with some yummy food. If you are doing this too, rather than settling for a cheesy rom-com or cliché-full slushy film check out my hubby’s favourite fourteen films for Valentines Day that have just the right amount of understated romance …

Ten Alternative Valentine Films for Couples

1: True Romance

Written by Quentin Tarantino, this movie was originally released between Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction to much less aplomb. I'm not sure why when, under the capable direction of Tony Scott (Ridley's brother), it's stellar cast delivers a fantastic bullet-fuelled, bubble gum popping subversion of Romeo & Juliet.

Rating: Violent black comedy

2: Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

If I mention that my next choice is a love story featuring Kate Winslet, you might think Titanic, right? Wrong! Although the actual answer, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, must surely have been a major influence on her Titanic co star's subsequent movie hit, Inception!?

Set in the familiar trappings of modern America, Charlie Kaufman's award-winning tale of intricately tangled relationships and sweet-natured romance is one which becomes increasingly surreal as the story progresses. This is thanks to the addition of a sci-fi plot element which is a very clever gimmick used to visually reveal the innermost thoughts of the main characters.

Rating: This film has all the feels of reading a good book

3: Fight Club

Director David Fincher described this film as a 'coming of age' movie but for 30 somethings.  I wouldn't disagree but I also see it as a dark romance. Its disaffected cast is lost on the fringes of society, struggling to fit into the world they view as shallow and consumerist.

However, it's through the Narrator's (Ed Norton) twisted, imperfect relationship with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) and Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) that these characters eventually hope to find spiritual salvation.

Rating: Nihilistic black comedy

4: Amelie

In this heart-warming French/German comedy, the heroine, Amelie, is a shy and lonely Parisian waitress who sets out to improve the lives of those around her with 'acts of random kindness'. Such innocent machinations spark a chain of events which ultimately involves her in the pursuit of her own romantic bliss.

Rating: A quirky, karmic comedy!

5: Wild at Heart

In preparation for Twin Peaks entering our lives again this May, it makes perfect sense to revisit the inimitable world of David Lynch. Having adapted and directed the visceral road movie Wild at Heart in 1990, he described it as "a really modern romance in a violent world – a picture about finding love in hell," ... Choice number 5: Tick!

Rating: Dark rom-com... Very, very dark!

6: Heathers

Things turn ugly for Winona Ryder's character Veronica when she dumps her nerdy high school pals for the popular Heathers, becoming embroiled in their princess politics. Who will save her from this air conditioned nightmare? Could it be the intriguing new kid on the block JD (Christian Slater)?

Heathers is listed as a cult classic. I agree, though I can't remember the last time I heard, saw or read anything to do with this movie since, well, forever. This is something I intend to rectify soon. I recommend you do the same!

Rating: Thought provoking black comedy

7: Brazil

I never realised till making this list, that I like my comedy how I like my coffee... bitter and black! What better barista then, than ex-Monty Python member, Terry Gilliam, who delivers a delicious serving of sardonic wit in his 1985 Orwellian classic Brazil.

Sam Lowry is a naive Waldo Mitty type, trapped in a dysfunctional dystopia. He longs to escape the daily grind of bureaucracy, regularly fantasising about romantic adventure.

When he literally meets the girl of his dreams Jill Layton, he strives to fulfil a seemingly prophetic destiny. He must save her from the ridiculous clutches of illogical officials, whose clerical error threatens to doom them both to torture and death.

Brazil might be the only safe place to hide!?

Rating: Never has drudgery been so lavishly visualised or comically lampooned

8: War of the Roses

Remember when Billy Ocean was in the charts with 'The Going Gets Tough'? Then you probably remember when Michael Douglass, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVitto were getting all Indiana Jones in 'Romancing the Stone' and its sequel 'The Jewel of the Nile'. Those films alone are probably worth a watch if you're after some rom-com action.

For me, though, it's their 3rd collaboration War of the Roses that hits the spot. It's a brooding dark comedy (yes, again) which cynically charts the evolution of long-term relationships. the sourer Barbara (Turner) and Oliver Rose's (Douglass) 17-year marriage gets, the funnier it gets!

Rating: Belly laughs galore for those who have survived a relationship ruck or two!

9: Grease

I've got chills, they're multiplying... If, so far, you've found my list to be mired in relationship gloom and doom, then hopefully a light-hearted flash of Grease Lightning will brighten things up for you.

For someone who confesses to hating musicals, I seem to have racked up three out of fourteen in this overall list. Maybe it's nostalgia or perhaps I'm just feeling the love.

Either way, watching high school sweethearts Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko pitted in a fun-girls (Pink Ladies) versus boys (T-Birds) adolescent war of affections is a technicolour slice of Americana that is hard to beat.

Rating: Summer loving this energetic musical!

10: Pretty in Pink

Named after the track by The Psychedelic Furs, this cult classic is about hormonal teenagers experiencing the trials and tribulations of young love amid the discriminatory peer pressures of societal order. Big attitude, bigger hair, loud clothes and catchy pop music, what's not to like about this nostalgic 80's explosion?

Rating: A feel-good teenage Brat Pack movie. (All together now... "Isn't sheeeeee...")


And four to watch with the kids

1: Princess Bride

This is probably the mushiest of all my picks in that it's a straight-up fairy tale in which simple farm hand Westley must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the dastardly Prince Humperdink.

However, as the character names suggest, director Rob Reiner and writer William Goldman soaked this tale with just enough 'tongue in cheek' humour to offset and subvert the sickly sweet predictability of the traditional fairytale romance.

Also, this is a story within a story. One being read to a sick child by his grandfather. Every now and then the boy interrupts the story to usher his grandfather to skip the gooey kissing scenes. Thankfully this clever plot device ensures that our family can sit back and enjoy the movie without any groaning protests from a certain 9-year-old male in denial of any romantic notions.

Rating: A chucklesome fairytale for all ages.

2: Mary Poppins

The classic of the pack, this timeless tale has withstood the appreciation of generations with countless more yet to come. I've lost track of the number of times we've stomped around our sofas and living room having first transformed them into make-believe rooftops.
A magical way to spend time with the kids while being reminded that they are actually what magic is all about.

Rating: A feel-good musical for all ages (Straight outta Hogwarts)

3: Frozen

My eldest (9) would hate me for choosing this musical quest. I guess it's been deemed a girl thing by his peers.
I've tried to explain that unlike other Disney princess tales, this one at least deals with romantic disappointment in aesthetic illusion and champions the charm and worth of us 'less princely, more froggy' mortals.

My youngest (7) however would love this choice. My eldest? Well, I just remind him that while he's not yet ready for the grown-up subject of love and romance, it's good to start challenging those sexual stereotypes bandied around the school playground. That and how he jumped up and down, squealing with joy when I first took them to see it at the cinema.

Rating: A magical musical for all ages (though some boys may mock protest... Let it go, son, let it go!)

4: Wall-E

Funny how the smouldering embers of love are doused with icy scorn by my eldest and his compadres until the movie company Pixar encourages them to project those very same emotions onto robots.

Only then, it seems, is it ok for a male protagonist to travel the length of the universe, doughy eyed and willing to do anything to court, cherish and protect the obsession of his undying true love... Aww, bless.

Wall-E, we've watched it thousands of times, it's still great!

Rating: An adorably funny sci-fi animation for all ages.

I wonder which one we'll end up watching ...

Which movies would you add to the list?

Deb x


  1. Great mix of films here! Love that you've included some darker options - Ed doesn't like anything too over the top! x

  2. The Princess Bride is one of my all time favourite films!

  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is such an amazing movie! One that hits me right in the feels!

  4. Wall E is one of my favourite movies... I actually found it a bit heartbreaking at times! Some on here I've not heard of so will have to check out!

  5. I love love love Wall-e... it's such a beautiful film. Xx

  6. True romance is one of my all time favourite movies, I used to watch it all the time, think I'll rent it hopefully on sky and watch x

  7. Mary Poppins is one of my absolute favourites!

  8. I absolutely love Pretty in pink! The rat pack films are my faves! <3