It’s February, and V-day is already here. Everywhere you go, you see red flowers, and flying cupids. But there is little conversation on what true love really is. If you are in a mood to watch movies to look at love from different perspective, then here’s a list of must-watch movies this Valentine:
Love as a rite of passage
Goodbye First Love by Mia Hansen-Løve (France/Germany, 2011) & Youth in Revolt by Miguel Arteta (USA, 2009); (Opener) Sheila Vand in Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
The idealism and glorification of young romance are explored with plenty honesty in director Mia Hansen-Løve’s Goodbye First Love and Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt.
In Hansen-Løve’s Goodbye First Love, set in Paris, 1999 where lust is the vice-du jour, 15 year old Camille (played by a dreamy Lola Créton) experiences her first heartbreak after a fallout with her 19 year old boyfriend. Camille experiences a series of repression, anger and finally acceptance, growing a little more every day, after that brief summer romance which was spent in passionate indulgence of everything romance has to offer. This intimate exploration on the fragility of young romance is personal, perhaps a retelling of Hansen-Løve’s own youth, and hence moving.
Arteta’s Youth in Revolt, on the other hand, is a comic retelling of the story of Nick Twisp (played by Michael Cera with plenty of oddball charm) who one day abandons his dull, predictable self to develop a rebellious alter ego in order to wow the free-spirited Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Rich with references of Ozu, Godard and other gems of early world cinema, Arteta’s retelling of author C.D. Payne’s novel of the same is realised with a geeky modishness which works strongly as a coming-of-age tale as well as a quirky love story.
You may also like: Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson (USA, 2012); Murmur of the Heart by Louis Malle (France, 1971) & Two English Girls by François Truffaut (France, 1971).
For a different perspective on love
Highway by Imtiaz Ali (India, 2014) & Eastern Boys by Robin Campillo (France, 2013)
Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and Robin Campillo’s Eastern Boys explore attachment and its many emotional nuances in similar tales of two people brought together by fate.
Intimacy grows between two unlikely people after a rich Delhite (Ali Bhatt in a breakthrough performance) is kidnapped by an unruly gangster (Randeep Hooda) in Highway, a beautiful road movie about a sheltered girl who finds liberation while being abducted. Highway explores the possibilities, and realities, of attachments unfitting of the cultural context as well as the interiors of a complex relationship with maturity.
What started as a routine sexual encounter turns into a string of life-altering events for a lonely Parisian in Eastern Boys, where a middle-aged man and a young Ukrainian grow a strong emotional dependence not only limited by their courtships. Only love, however, don’t seem to accommodate the strange kinship between the men in this unpredictable and intriguing drama.
You may also like: Weekend by Andrew Haigh (UK, 2011).
Love in the modern times
The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos (Ireland/UK/Greece/France/Netherlands, 2015) & OK Kanmani by Mani Ratnam (India, 2015)
The complexities and the rudiments of love in the modern times gets examined in form of a satirical comedy and a musical in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster and Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani respectively.
In The Lobster, set in a bleak dystopian future where being single is a crime as mandated by the laws of The City, a recently divorced man (Colin Farrell) is admitted to a retreat where he has to find a partner in 45 days or risk being transformed into a beast. But when he grows closer to a cadre (Rachel Weisz) from The Loners, a rebellious outfit revolting against the regime, he may have to become an outlaw, risking finding abode in either sides. A potent satire on contemporary dating culture and the constant need for validation in romance in the modern times, this bleak comedy should prove insightful to viewers who can look beyond the eccentricities in its proceedings.
The fear of commitment takes centrestage in OK Kanmani where a pair of 20-somethings acknowledge their burgeoning attraction by deciding to live in together in Mumbai but only till a certain point of time. But as the agreement reaches its deadline, their romance is only beginning.
OK Kanmani, which was remade in Hindi in the form of OK Jaanu, cuts down the cringe to tell a simple tale of love that is familiar and relatable. Watch the original; it benefits from director Ratnam’s involvement.
You may also like: Vicky Cristina Barcelona by Woody Allen (USA, 2008); Dev.D by Anurag Kashyap (India, 2009) & Love Aaj Kal by Imtiaz Ali (India, 2009).
If Valentine’s day and Halloween were celebrated on the same day
Thirst by Park Chan-Wook (South Korea, 2009) & A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night by Ana Lily Amirpour (USA, 2014)
For those looking to find love in the most unlikeliest of places, these two tales of a pair of blood suckers whiling away the nights in blood-soaked fangs and leisurely flights in the neighbourhood, will prove to be worthwhile.
While director Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst, where a priest turns into a vampire after a failed experiment, is soaked in religious and moral undertones, Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a new-age spin to the teen-vampire genre which feels instantly iconic with its many political allegories and stark cinematography.
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