From Notting Hill to Manhattan, Valentine’s Day sits alongside Halloween and Christmas as a quintessential season for cinema, filtering through young teens in the drive-in theatres of 1950s America to the spotty tweens of the contemporary multiplex. The back-row movie date night has long been a staple.
Now, in the age of Netflix, Amazon and multiple on-demand streaming services, choosing a film itself has become far simpler—especially if you don’t want to spend the cash on the big-screen releases of Valentine’s weekend. Luckily for you, your choice has been made more straightforward as the only major release on the weekend of February 14th, 2022 is ‘Uncharted’, enough to divorce any couple with immediate effect.
Though don’t be fooled, choosing a film can be dangerous work. A love story with too much fire, passion and emotional weight could throw some unwanted questions in your direction. Here the best anti-Valentine’s films that could extinguish your libido.
See the full list, below.
Best anti-Valentine’s Day films on Netflix:
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
What is love but a mindless, confusing rubbing together of two human bodies? Such is a theme discussed in the subtext of Yorgos Lanthimos’ popular yet surreal 2015 romantic drama from the king of Greek cinema.
With the likes of Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, Léa Seydoux and Ben Whishaw leading the film, there’s no shortage of acting talent on display in this peculiar rom-com that follows the inhabitants of a hotel in which customers are forced to engage in relationships. Whilst Lanthimos’ film is a highly enjoyable ride, it does speak to a dark truth that lies at the heart of modern life, in which love and companionship are seen as the ‘be-all and end-all’.
Kill Bill: Vol 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)
Yeah sure, Kill Bill the bloody and brutal revenge story from Quentin Tarantino is more of an exercise in visceral gore and violence than anything else, though at the heart of the film lies a broken heart.
Betrayed by a team of assassins, the Bride (Uma Thurman) is ultimately let down by her former lover and father to her child, with the following film tracking her efforts to murder her ex by any means necessary. It may be a highly enjoyable watch on the surface, though when you dig down past the splattering guys it’s really a film about female empowerment and the fallibility of love.
Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
Known as one of the finest horror films of the 21st century, Midsommar from Ari Aster is a swirling whirlwind of anxiety that all centres around the tumultuous relationship of the two lead characters.
Following a group of friends who venture to an idyllic Swedish midsummer festival, things start to become rather unsavoury when the seemingly innocent gathering turns sinister. With Florence Pugh in the lead role as Dani, Midsommar manages to craft a truly agonising breakup movie, with director Ari Aster telling the YouTube channel Birth.Movies.Death, “I saw a way of marrying the breakup movie that I was having at the time with the structure of a folk horror film”.
Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011)
Drake Doremus’ surprisingly touching 2011 film Like Crazy, starring Felicity Jones and the late Anton Yelchin is a touching study into young, fleeting love, and an awful film to watch if you’re going through a long-distance relationship.
Jones, a British student studying in America, outstays her visa after falling in love with an American counterpart, Yelchin, spending the rest of their days passing like ships in the night as they try to rekindle their love. Like Crazy wrenches at your heartstrings, forcing you to sympathise for, and feel nostalgia towards a romance you’ve never lived. Tread carefully.
Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1998)
Happiness is either the most misleading, or most dispiritingly realistic film titles, depending on your outlook on life. Todd Solondz’s cult masterpiece entwines the lives of several hopeless individuals in their search for individual happiness, however desperate or depraved those ambitions may be.
A psychiatrist living the suburban American dream festers dark paedophilic thoughts, whilst a room-dwelling deadbeat, played superbly by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, longs for companionship. Pitch black in its humour, Happiness explores love, individuality, paranoia and everyday anxiety in the most honest, and coincidently, most awkward way possible.
This is not date-night, nor family viewing.
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Noah Baumbach’s Oscar-nominated Marriage Story, whilst undeniably fantastic, is an emotional leech of a two-hour epic.
Chronicling the rise and explosive fall of two passionate lovers, Marriage Story is only worth recommending if you’re in an extremely stable marriage, and even then it’s a questionable choice. If you’re thinking about getting married, don’t watch Marriage Story, it may destroy your ambitions of marriage forever, that said it may also breed a newfound love for Adam Driver.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
A heart-wrenching love story made for the 21st century, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind from director Michel Gondry quickly became an influential love story upon its release, going on to inspire the 2013 science fiction, Her.
Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in the lead roles, the story follows Clementine and Joel, once passionate lovers, who choose to have their memories erased in order to help them get over their relationship with each other. Questioning the preservation of memories and feelings of love in the wake of a breakup, Gondry’s film is a beautiful romance that is built on the contacts of nostalgia, regret and melancholia.
We Need to Talk About Kevin – (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
So you’re thinking about having kids, you’re in the process of trying to convince your partner that it’s a good idea, and then you make the mistake of watching We Need to Talk about Kevin.
Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name is a psychologically twisted affair, following the tale of Eva, played by Tilda Swinton, whose relationship with her peculiar son Kevin reaches disturbing heights. Toying with the fears of parental paranoia, this film is every new parents’ nightmare, manifested into an excellent, if thoroughly disturbing 110-minute package.