Romantic comedies are typically the mundane viewing choice for couples on Valentine's Day, but there are countless other films that are a break from this cycle. These films have a sweet nature at heart ad they approach the genre of romance in a novel way. Stylistically they diverge from a more straighforward approach and the plot lines leave the viewer clueless of what is yet to come. Classic and indie romance films are sometimes forgotten, but this is an important reminder of the other options this Valentine's Day.
"Lost in Translation"
Sofia Coppola directs this masterpiece of a sad and lonely existence between two people of very different backgrounds who find themselves lost in Tokyo. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an American celebrity who comes to Japan to film a generic whiskey commercial when he comes across Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a complete stranger who soon becomes a companion. Their conversations are often dry and detached, and although one might expect romance to blossom, Coppola does not make the mistake of letting that happen. They are kept just far enough apart to remain stable as two strangers striking up conversation. What they get from each other is not sex or lust, but conversation about what really matters in life. The film's subtle humor is exquisitely performed, and Murray stands out in a way that he never has before–he is Bob Harris, and he ensures that he never breaks from that persona. A sweet whisper between Bob and Charlotte is seen but not heard at the end of the film, summarizing the beauty of "Lost in Translation."
"Silver Linings Playbook"
Pat (Bradley Cooper) has recently been released from a mental institution – after much deliberation – and is not discouraged to rekindle the relationship with his wife, who has a restraining order against him. Pat had a mental breakdown when he caught his wife engaging in infidelity and is now a broken man, a bipolar shell of the person he used to be. Pat is constantly looking for the silver lining in everything, and he is drawn to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a somewhat psychotic and opinionated woman. Pat and Tiffany fall into a comedic deal in which an Eagles' game and a ballroom dance competition intertwine to progress the plot of the film with romantic undertones from start to finish. An excellent supporting cast propels "Silver Linings Playbook" as well.
This 1942 classic is a must-see for any romantic and is considered by many to be the greatest film ever made. What makes "Casablanca" great is not just the iconic Humphrey Bogart playing Rick Blaine, but it is the best tale of star-crossed lovers ever told. Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) broke Rick's heart when she left him in the past, but she is back in his life, and Rick remains bitter although his strong love for her persists. The film was never meant to be a success, but it was so well acted, and the final scene of Ilsa getting on the plane with Laszlo upholds the self-sacrificing nature of Rick even through his hard exterior. Through moral dilemmas and pinpoint storytelling, the drama gently unravels into a pure romance at its very core.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Although a second viewing might be required, the complicated story of Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) twists around the idea that Clementine underwent a surgical procedure that erased the memory of her falling in love with Joel. But in a twist of fate, they find themselves in the same predicament as before. Chronology is crumpled and regarded as inane in this film, but the sweet center of "Eternal Sunshine" is enough to power through the confusing illusions and wild fantasies. Carrey delivers his best performance in this indie flick, through his portrayal of Joel as a quiet and nervous man stricken with love for his exact opposite.
Although a black and white film may discourage some viewers, the stylistic triumph of "The Artist" as well as the love story at its very center should be enough for anyone. The vast majority of the film is silent, but it is a contemporary film that uses that silence to enhance its visual splendor. It's charming, and Jean Dujardin steals the show as George Valentin, a film star on the rise who runs into trouble while his lover Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) is met with great success. The film is virtually flawless as a romantic film that meshes old Hollywood charm in perfect harmony.